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10 Relationship Tips That Couples Often Forget

10 Relationship Tips That Couples Often Forget

Once a couple of people have settled into a relationship, things can fall into a bit of a rut. Routines form, the attentiveness that was present at the beginning of the courtship might be replaced by content complacency, and ultimately tensions arise. These simple tips may seem like common sense, but you may be surprised at how often people forget about their importance.

Communication is Vital

Very few of us are able to read one another’s minds, so it’s important to express things that weigh on us, whether they’re positive or negative. Little behaviors that bother us can become more irksome over time, so it’s good to address them early, before the irritation accumulates to the point of anger. Similarly, miscommunications can lead to some pretty ugly arguments, so if you’re uncertain about something, try to discuss it calmly so you can sort things out: you may have misheard or misread something your partner said/did and taken it totally out of context, so clarify before freaking out about anything. Even though we may feel that we know our partners well after being with them for several years, remember that we all grow and change over time, and methods of communication must change along with us as needed.

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Never Take Each Other for Granted

Be aware of every wonderful thing that your partner does for you, and express your gratitude whenever possible. This might be as simple as thanking them for doing the dishes after you’ve eaten dinner, or telling them how much it means to you that they make your coffee/tea exactly the way you like it. They’ll feel appreciated for the love and kindness they show you, and will express their appreciation to you in turn, so no one ever feels like their actions aren’t being acknowledged.

Respect Each Other’s Alone Time

Togetherness is important, but just as important (if not more so) is the ability to spend time alone. Too much time spent together can make you irritable, especially if you feel like your personal space is always being invaded. Time alone is necessary for personal reflection, growth, meditation, or even just quiet contemplation. Remember that absence makes the heart grow fonder, and you’ll appreciate your partner a lot more after having some space away from them. If you live together, it might be a good idea to have personal spaces that you can retreat to: either individual offices, or a garage workshop for one person and an attic library for another, etc.

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Don’t “Let Yourself Go”

It’s inevitable that once certain comfort levels have been reached and closeness wins out over early awkwardness, some behavioral patterns will change. You might not spend an hour prepping before dinner to make sure that your hair is perfect, or your partner might wear the same pants for two days in a row without worrying about what you might think of their outfit. That’s totally normal, and really quite hilarious. That said, closer comfort levels don’t mean that you should neglect your personal hygiene, or let your living space fall into complete ruin. You know they’re not going to judge you if you leave pizza boxes all over the floor, but that doesn’t mean that you should. Try to keep things tidy and your appearance a step or two above “slovenly,” and your partner will undoubtedly feel that they’re worth making an effort for.

Share Some Hobbies, and Have Solo Pursuits as Well

You might not share your partner’s love of MMORPGs, and they may not be interested in your love of foreign films, and you know what? That’s absolutely okay. While it’s great to pursue some hobbies and interests together, it’s important to have your own social groups and interests as well. Take cooking classes or swing dance lessons together, hook up with friends to go to wine tasting nights, but then split off for your individual pursuits: you’ll have fun things to talk about when you meet up afterwards.

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Admit When You’re Wrong (or When They’re Right)

This may be difficult for some people to do, but it really is important. If you discover that you’ve been wrong about an issue/bit of information/whatnot, own up to it: you’ll gain your partner’s appreciation and respect if you do, and if you don’t, you’re just proving yourself to be an immature, pouty jerk. Additionally, if you’ve been discussing something and your partner turns out to be in the right, acknowledge that fact: they may have been filled with self-doubt, and acknowledging their awareness or knowledge may boost their self-esteem exponentially.

Have Faith In Your Partner

Having trust and faith in another person can be difficult, especially if you’ve been hurt by others in the past. If you’ve been cheated on or otherwise betrayed by another partner, you might worry that the same thing will happen in your current relationship, and this may cause you to imagine things or accuse your partner without just cause. If you find that your own insecurities are poisoning your partnership, talk it out with them and consider seeking therapy: they’re not the person who hurt you, so please don’t assume that just because one person treated you badly, everyone else will too.

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Leave the Past In the Past

If you work through a hardship together and come to a positive resolution, move past it and use the experience as an opportunity to learn and grow. Don’t refer back to it during arguments, don’t bring it up as a means of guilt-tripping your partner, and try not to assume that just because something happened once, that it’ll happen again. What’s passed is past, and rehashing old ugliness will just poison future happiness. Let it go.

Mutual Goals are Important

It’s great to have a goal or a project that you’re both working on together, as that can affect many aspects of your life outside of your actual relationship. You could be working on an art piece, saving up for a trip, building a cottage, or even working on a garden. Determine your strengths for the project so you’re working in harmony, and build something amazing that you can be proud of having achieved as a team.

Be Honest

Some people lie to their partners for years out of fear of hurting or offending them, but that can lead to a whole lot of ugliness on all sides. The one being lied to will know that something is wrong, and the one lying may feel more and more frustration about holding back and the relationship may end up suffering badly as a result. This honesty doesn’t have to deal with outright lies, but rather personal interests or preferences that may have changed over the years. Alternately, there could be some serious issues that really should be dealt with, but are internalized out of fear of hurting the other person. Ultimately, honesty really is the best policy, and a strong couple will be able to work through just about anything together.

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

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