As someone who just celebrated a 10-year anniversary with her partner, I can tell you that being in a relationship isn’t always easy. But if you’re willing to work on the following elements of communication, you can make it work:
1. Honesty: Okay, this may be a shaky one to believe in when we’re bombarded with images of Tiger Woods’ mistresses. But you can why honesty is so important both before and after you tie the knot. If you’re not finished playing the field, don’t get into a serious relationship in the first place. Once you get married, you need to be open and upfront about everything from what brand of toilet paper you prefer to what you expect from your relationship. Without honesty, there is no relationship.
2. Listening. Listening is much different than hearing. You can hear when someone calls your name. But when you’re listening to one another, everything else is turned off; you’re totally tuned in to what is being said.
3. Openness. Effective communication requires both people to be open about their feelings, needs and wants. I’m convinced that a lot of marriages could be saved if couples didn’t assume they knew what each other was thinking and, instead, talked it out to be sure.
4. Understanding. This is more than being empathetic. It’s being so in tuned with your partner that you know what he needs and when. And he can just look at you and know when you need to talk”or just have a hug.
5. Vulnerability. You can’t be open, express emotions or be a good communicator unless you’re willing to be a little vulnerable. If you’re willing to talk about things that can hurt, it shows your ability to keep things real.
6. Respect. If you want it, you have to give it. So many people demand respect but have no clue what it really is. Find out what it means to him, make it clear what it means to you and don’t accept anything less. Period.
7. Acceptance. Know when to speak your mind and when to let things go. Many of us make a huge deal of the tiniest things. Who cares if he leaves the toothpaste cap off or if he forgets to put the toilet seat down? If he’s being supportive, loving and a great communicator, you’ve got a keeper.