Here are 10 ways to encourage effective emotional communication in your relationship. Even if you use only one of these tips, it will add to the depth of your communication and improve your relationship.
1. Find the emotional connection with your partner.
Take a moment to look into their eyes, hold their hands, and reexperience the reason you fell in love.
2. Create an environment of openness; encourage your partner to talk with you.
Questions like, "What do you think was the best movie we ever saw?" are a great way to begin a conversation. Once the door is open, it's very easy to move to the next level.
3. Make it safe to talk about emotions.
Let your partner know that you are there for them. It can be very empowering to say, "You can cry on my shoulder if you ever need to. I won't think you're weak. Your feelings are important to both of us." Once your partner knows that they will not be judged for being emotional and that their words will not be used against them, they will be more open to sharing their deeper feelings.
4. Help each other learn basic conflict-resolution skills.
Understand that in every conversation (no matter how heated) there is a speaker and a listener; when the speaker is talking, the listener needs to hear what they are saying. Then the roles reverse. This alone will make difficult conversations much easier. (Read 8 issues all couples clash over for more conflict-resolution advice.)
5. Encourage informality.
Learn to be relaxed with each other. If things get difficult and you feel like you're walking on eggshells, let your partner know that you feel the tension and that you are willing to lighten things up. If they agree, then kiss and move on.
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6. Encourage your partner to bring their whole self to the relationship.
Let them know that they don't have to edit their feelings and that you are willing to hear whatever it is they need to say.
7. Admit to your partner that not all of your actions, words, or ideas are good ones.
We all make mistakes, and we have to give each other room to be human. (Read Forgiveness is empowerment.)
8. Encourage your partner to think out loud.
Nothing unsaid ever goes unnoticed. Even if you don't talk about what is on your mind, your behaviour will reflect your true feelings. Talking about what you are feeling will prevent you from acting out and perhaps creating an unnecessary conflict.
9. Promote the belief that laughter is good, and playing it cool is not.
A sense of humour may be one of the best things you can bring to a relationship. Couples who laugh together stay together and stay healthy.
10. Recognize that your emotional connection to your partner makes even the impossible seem possible.
Having a strong emotional bond will help both of you deal with the inevitable difficulties that arise in life. (Read How to spot emotional vampires for dealing with toxic emotional bonds.)
For more great advice on making the emotional connection with your partner pick up a copy of Emotional Fitness for Couples by Barton Goldsmith, PhD.
Excerpted from Emotional Fitness for Couples by Barton Goldsmith, PhD. Copyright 2005 by Barton Goldsmith. Excerpted with permission by New Harbinger Publications. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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