Is your communication style sabotaging your relationship?…

Photo by Andrew Nicholson

We often take the way in which we communicate with our partner for granted, rarely giving a thought to the tone of our voice or the words we choose to put our message across. I can’t express highly enough how important effective communication is in any relationship, because whatever form it takes will create the foundation for the experience you share and way your partner responds. You can create some amazing shifts in the polarity you experience together by making subtle changes in the way you communicate.

What tone of voice do you use when speaking with your partner?
Do you have an ‘edge’ to your voice, a harsh tone, when communicating with your partner? I often hear people speaking to their partner in what I can only describe as an accusatory tone all the time. It doesn’t matter what they’re speaking about, the tone is simply there. This can happen when someone is holding on to anger and resentment and they’ve never spoken up about how they really feel. The result is that this tonality becomes the norm. The problem with this is that your partner will always feel as if they’re being reprimanded, judged or criticised, even when this is not your intention. So if you’re not experiencing the closeness or co-operation you’d love from your partner, then a simple conscious shift in tone to a loving and gentle one can make such a difference. It will draw your partner towards you, rather than giving them reason to want to keep their distance.

What words do you use to relay your message?
Do you feel that criticising your partner will spur them into action? This certainly doesn’t work for Andy or me, and I don’t believe it works for many others either. In the main, people like to do something because they want to, not because they’ve been told how awful they are because they haven’t. If they do end up doing something because they’ve been criticised into it, then it’s likely it will be done from a place of guilty resentment, certainly not love. There are much kinder ways of letting your partner know what you need. Firstly, check in with your tone of voice, then choose words which let them know you care about their feelings. Then relay your message by letting them know how happy you would be if they did this certain thing, and how much you would appreciate it. Very importantly, remember to thank them when it’s done. Lack of appreciation has fractured many relationships. At the very least, it will cause your partner to not want to bother stepping up again.

It’s all in the eyes!
How often do you flirt with your partner? Flirting is such a magical polarity to create and there’s absolutely no reason why it should ever need to end in your relationship. Andy and I flirt with each other even more now than we did in our early days. The more we’ve learned about ourselves and each other, the more we’ve discovered how to keep the romance, sensuality and flirting alive and very much part of our every day communication with each other. It’s all in the eyes. Think about the way you look at your partner. When was the last time you gave them one of those incredible looks that can only say ‘I love you’. When your eyes are smiling at your partner, their eyes will smile back at you, and coupled with a loving tonality and gentle words, your partner is likely to be irresistibly drawn to you. Compare this with angry words, angry tonality and eyes that say ‘You disappoint me!’ Which do you feel contributes to a happy relationship?

A gentle touch.
How often to you touch each other? A gentle kiss, a hug on their arrival home from work, holding hands, a soft stroke to their face. Touch lets us know we’re alive. We all need love and connection, it’s a fundamental human need. The more love and affection someone experiences in their relationship, the happier and more at ease they will be. Next time you’re sitting with your partner watching a film, reach out and hold their hand. And perhaps when they arrive home from work, a hug and smile is likely to make their whole experience of coming home one they look forward to every day.

No more guessing games!
Do you think your partner should automatically ‘know’ how you feel? Men and women’s brains are designed to process information very differently from one another, and there are good reasons for this. If a woman expects a man to know how she feels in the same way her female friends do, then she is expecting her man to think like a woman. Strange I know, but extremely common unfortunately. When a man knows there’s something wrong with his partner, but she won’t tell him because she’s expecting him to just ‘know’, it’s far more likely to create not only distance between you, but also make him feel like he’s failing you as a man. Men have been known to distance themselves because of this. The cure? Well, let your partner know what you need, what you would love and then give them space to do it for you. Be clear with your communication, keep it without blame, criticism, or accusation. Keep it logical, not overly emotional and ensure you’re in a loving energy before you broach the subject. There is nothing worse for a relationship than years of pent up resentment and frustration. You may feel it’s far better to appear non-demanding by not saying anything, but quite the contrary is true, because it will seep out in all your communication if not nipped in the bud early on.

Appreciate, regularly and often…
Everyone needs a reason to want to remain in a relationship. If there is constant criticism, little loving and no appreciation, then the partnership will be one that both may end up preferring to avoid. If your partner does something you appreciate, thank them, and do so every time. Let them know regularly how much they mean to you.

If you’re adamant that you’re going to wait until your partner does so first, then you may be waiting a long time. You’re also taking no responsibility for the part you play in your own relationship. We create our relationships – they show up as a reflection of who we are, it’s not always down to who our partner is. So I would invite you to take the initiative and create these subtle changes first, then see what unfolds.

If this were to become your habitual way of communicating, and your partner does not reflect this loving energy back after a reasonable length of time, then perhaps it’s time to reconsider the relationship. In the majority of cases, your partner will step up to match your energy and the way you’re treating them.

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