Have you ever been in an argument over something that you and your partner both agree on? One minute you are talking about tomatoes, and then it happens. “TOMAY-TOE!” You say assertively. “TOMAH-TOE!” they reply in rebuttal. Communication is something we practice daily. Can we agree most of us are terrible at it?

Relationships are hard. We spend most of our life with our partners. Sometimes we make basic mistakes that we would never make in other environments. We spend too much time trying to serve instead of serving ourselves.

We think we KNOW what’s best for them instead of letting our partners enjoy the experience of life. You can be be the best listener in the office. Somehow, you forget those same listening skills when you get home. These things, when taken for granite, can lead to a rocky relationship with many couples.

What makes YOU Happiest?

Many people try to show their love through acts of service. On the offset, this sounds great, but it can also make things a bit one-sided. If you somehow got into a relationship, what did you do before, when you were single? Did you have hobbies or friends that you abandoned?

It’s important not to use your relationship as the reason why you no longer do the things that you enjoy. Too often I hear people tell me about the exciting lives they had before they got married. They put their interests to the wayside when they found a steady relationship. This is not suggesting you become a complete narcissist. However, it is important to strive to live your own independent and fulfilling life.

Having your own life is what made you attractive to your partner in the first place. Don’t allow your growth to stagnate because you are in love. Being focused a little on yourself gives your partner time to learn who they are and grow as well. They won’t feel pressured and responsible for your happiness if they aren’t the center of it.

Let Your Partner Learn Life In Their Own Way

Its easy to get caught up in someone else’s life. You may think you know whats best for your partner. Your heart may be in the right place, but no one likes others telling them what to do. Your partner may or may not be making a bad decision. Telling them what they should do will not improve the situation. There are always extremes to this rule so use your judgment. Generally speaking, telling your partner that they shouldn’t pursue their passions is a bad idea.

You have to be willing to allow your partner to experience the world. Allow them to fail and learn on their own accord. Everyone’s life experience is different. Your mental map is not the same as your partners. Serving your partner by guiding them every step of the way will either frustrate or stunt their growth.

Learn the Art of Listening

A mentor had a phrase he regularly threw my way, “We have two ears and one mouth for a reason.”.

LISTEN. It sounds simple enough, but there are some crucial steps to follow if you want to make someone feel heard. This simple formula can assist you in improving your relationship.

Set up regular time for focused and intentional communication. Drop your technology, put the kids to bed, turn off the TV, and engage in deliberate communication.

  1. Allow your partner to express themselves without contradicting or interruption.
  2. Don’t take things personally and don’t make judgments.
  3. If you are having a hard time keeping focus, merely ask them if you may recap what was said.
  4. Use their words and repeat back to them what was said, then ask “Did I get that right?”.
  5. Ask if they have more to say.
  6. Empathize and repeat what they have said, then make an assumption on how they must be feeling. Ask if you are wrong.
  7. Repeat this pattern until they have truly been heard and understood.

You can both follow these guidelines taking turns being the listener and the speaker. It is impressive how effective communicating this way is. You may find wells of understanding that you had otherwise never knew before with practice.

Don’t Call the Whole Thing Off

We often pick our partners because they are the perfect opposite for us in many ways. This can be wonderfully rewarding, and they can be one of your most excellent teachers. These differences if not embraced can also lead to a relationship ending.

Being yourself and encouraging your partner to be their self will help build a more fulfilling relationship. Using powerful communication skills can take your love to the next level.

We all seek to be ourselves, to be heard, and to be understood. These are the greatest gifts we can give our partners to truly show that we genuinely care about and appreciate who they are.

Please share this article with someone you know who is trying to improve their relationship.