Relationships are hard work. You hear that over and over again but really how do you actually actively put in the work? It is challenging  to get actual direction in what needs to be done in order to communicate well. And communication is so vital to a marriage, it is what helps provide connection or what can erode a relationship. Sometimes it truly can make or break a relationship. Time and time again working on your communication can really help with foundational work in a relationship to foster healthy connection.

My work with couples has morphed over the years from focusing on fix-it solutions to real lasting change. And sometimes we forget the simple stuff that can really be helpful. I wrote up some tips that aren’t your normal use “I” statements or take a break during an argument, there are so many blogs out there on that. But I gave some tips that can really help build connection whether you are struggling in your relationship or this is the closest you have ever felt to your partner.

So let’s explore some tips that can really be a great foundation to communication and connection:

Say what you mean. So many times couples start to assume their partner is going to automatically read between the lines. You have been married for years after all, we should know each other. WRONG. As much as we wish we all could read minds, we can’t, no matter how well you know someone. Being clear in what you are trying to say, not just in the words but the meaning is so important. Pay attention to the words you are using, ask yourself, does this actually convey what I want it to? Am I afraid to be direct and ask for my needs/wants/desires? Oftentimes partners fear being too direct that might harm or hurt their partner but then fail to really ask for what they mean. Directness, when used in a healthy way, can actually help build connection rather than destroy it. Sometimes we don’t actually know what we mean, which leads me to the next tip.

Work on self awareness. Couples often get stuck in cycles of communication because they lack awareness of what is going on in their hearts and bodies. Pay attention to what you are feeling, what truly is going on underneath the surface? Are you triggered due to your own fears? Is there something that is getting in the way of seeing the best in your partner? Are there attachment traumas in your life from past relationships you haven’t healed from? Sometimes these things take over and we react or shut down because it is too painful. Learning how to understand these pieces in yourself can actually help build connection in your relationship. When you are able to understand yourself and risk by sharing this with your partner, often couples feel closer.

Talk about your desires in life and in your relationship. These are so important because often couples can miss knowing this part about their spouse. And, these change over time. What you wanted five years ago may no longer apply. It is a great way to connect, get to know your partner and even discuss what you want more of or less of in your relationship. Ask yourself, what are you desiring in life right now? What are your hopes and goals for the future? What do you want more or less of in your relationship? What hopes do you have for your relationship in the next year? Five years? Ten years? Then share it with your partner.

Take a break from the serious stuff. It is so easy to get caught in the loop of what issues you and your partner are experiencing. Sometimes we can talk it to death, and even over analyze a situation. The kids, the in-laws, the schedule, can inundate a relationship even just as much. And it can be exhausting. Make sure you have times where you communicate about other things in life, the light hearted stuff. Talk about the weather, talk about something new you experienced, talk about something in pop culture, or talk about a funny meme you saw. This isn’t an excuse to avoid your conflict or family logistics but just a reminder that your relationship needs to have fun and connection in other ways.

Get help when you need it. Couples counseling is not a bad thing and can actually be beneficial to helping you learn how to better communicate with your partner in so many ways. Don’t wait until it is too late. So many times in my counseling room, couples have waited years too long and it can be a much more painful process because of the hurt that has built up in the relationship. If you have a thought you might need help, go now, don’t wait. Don’t let the pain and hurt build up, it’s not worth it. 

As unconventional as it might be, communication and connection happens in the smaller things. We think the large, deep and heart wrenching conversations are where we have to work on the most but really it’s all the little things too. Take some time to work on one of the above tips and do something different in your relationship.

If you are needing extra support and want to give couples counseling a try, reach out today. We have several counselors in Marietta, Georgia that could be a good fit for you!