Why is it important to keep improving relationship communication?
Improving relationship communication – a few questions.
A relationship can be compared to a garden: if you don’t maintain your garden, weed starts growing, plants and flowers may die due to a shortage or abundance of water, and before you know it the garden turns into a jungle. By maintaining your garden flowers will blossom, plants will grow, and weed will be removed. By improving relationship communication you maintain your relationship (the garden) so that it can blossom, grow, and you prevent it from deteriorating. In a lot of partner relationships the routine sooner or later starts to kick in and people start taking each other for granted. When or if this happens loneliness in a relationship is common. Sometimes the main reason for feelings of loneliness in partner relationship is lack of joint quality time. Other times the main reason is lack of communication and the increased number of relationship conflicts. Especially in latter cases, partners are becoming more and more focused on their own pain and mistreatment and start to overlook the effort and pain of their partner. They are investing less and less time in their relationship, as they believe that they have tried absolutely everything and apparently nothing can really change in the way they function.
Even in cases when the break-up/divorce seems the only reasonable choice, it’s still possible to save the relationship. With open and honest, yet respectful and understanding communication it’s possible to revive the connection and closeness and work towards a satisfactory relationship. However, couples need patience, time, and invest effort. This page focuses on improving relationship communication through asking the right questions in order for your partner to open up and for the two of you to reconnect again.
The questions are divided in 4 categories: partner relationship, childhood, future, and social network. These are topics know for their difficulty addressing. By not disclosing enough, your partner might not understand your behaviour or way of thinking. Consequently he/she might feel hurt, even though that was not your initial intention. Improving relationship communication on these topics is an important step towards reconnecting with each other.
For more interesting relationship tips, please read:
At Barends Psychology Practice couples counseling is offered (also online). Go to contact us to schedule a first, free of charge, first session.(Depending on your health insurance, treatment can be reimbursed).
Improving relationship communication – The relationship
Improving relationship communication basically starts with a discussion about the relationship self. A discussion about each others wishes, expectations, and annoyances in the relationship could move the relationship to another level if they are constructive and if both partners are willing to listen to each other. Therefore it’s important to plan such a conversation some days in advance, to set up some simple conversation rules (no interruptions, no cursing, no accusations), and to be open to receiving feedback. It’s crucial that partners are open, respectful, and patient to one another. If partners keep their feelings for themselves, but expect their partners to be able to mind read, then conflicts will be part of the relationship. At the same time, it’s important to give feedback in a constructive way, because that encourages the partner to change their behaviour or to consider some adjustment. Couples learn more from talking about difficulties in the relationship, because it gives them tools and tips regarding relationship improvement. Here are a few questions that may help you improving relationship communication:
1. What are three key elements in a successful relationship, and are they present in our relationship?
2. How and what should we individually change in order to improve our relationship?
3. What do you miss in our relationship? What do you want me to do for you (more often) in order to make you feel better?
4. What are three characteristics/features that we have in common, and how do they contribute to the relationship?
5. What are the biggest differences between us, and are they contributing to the relationship?
6. What does it tell you that some of our discussions topics, annoyances, fights, and frustrations return every now and then? What could we do to prevent them from returning?
7. What is your motivation to stay in this relationship?
Improving relationship communication – Childhood
Some people have difficulties talking about their childhood, especially if their childhood was unhappy and if they felt overlooked, misunderstood, or harassed. Childhood is an important period. At that time we start to form our beliefs about ourselves, others, and the world. From our parents we learn how partner relationships should look like, how conflicts were supposed to be resolved, how to deal with issues, how to talk about our feelings, emotions etc. We transfer behavioural patterns and beliefs we gain in that period, in our adult intimate relationships. In other words: a lot of your current behaviour can be explained if you have closer look at your childhood. Improving relationship communication and talking about each other’s childhoods go hand in hand, because it’s a very interesting topic, and you get to know each other a lot better. Here are a few questions to help you on your way:
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1. How was your childhood? Would you describe it as happy, good…? And why was it good, bad, etc?
2. Were you able to talk about your feelings and emotions at home? Were there feelings that were forbidden, not acceptable?
3. What did you learn about partner relationships from your parents? What values and beliefs did they hand over to you?
4. How do you see your schooling period (elementary, high school)? How did you get along with peers? Were you accepted, popular, an outcast?
5. If you could travel back in time and give your younger self any advice, what would it be?
6. If you could change anything from your past, what would it be?
7. How was it for you to live alone/with siblings? How did you get along?
Improving relationship communication – Future
Talking about the future can be difficult and some people try to avoid it for as long as possible. It’s important to address the way partners see their future as well. It helps us discover how both partners perceive their (joint) future and how overlapping or different their expectations are. Some people have difficulties imagining what they want in the future for themselves (or for the relationship), which disables them to fully commit to the relationship and eventually take the next step in joint future (marriage, children). You can ask the following questions.
1. Do you want to have children? How would you like to raise them and which values you think you really want to pass on?
2. How do you see yourself in 10 years from now? Where do you want to live and what do you want to do?
3. Is there any trait you would like to change in the upcoming years? If yes, which one?
4. How do you see (our/partner) relationship in 10 years from now? What do you expect from your partner and how would you contribute to the relationship?
5. If you were able to see one thing in the future, what would you want to find out?
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Improving relationship communication – Social network
Information about partners relationships with other people, how he/she deals with conflicts etc. tells a lot about the way a person functions in general. These questions are important because they will offer an insight and an idea how this part of his/her life might evolve in the future and affect the relationship. Here are a few questions to inspire you:
1. How do you get along with your friends? Can you entrust them your problems?
2. What do you like/cherish about your friends the most?
3. Can you imagine yourself cancelling plans with friends in the last minute because of familial duties (like taking care of a sick child)?
4. How important is work to you in comparison with family and leisure time?