5 Communication Hacks To Make Unhealthy Arguments In Your Relationship A Thing Of The Past

Photo: Just Life / Shutterstock
couple lying in bed talking

There's no such thing as the perfect relationship, but sprucing up on these simple and effective communication skills, you can make yours stronger than ever.

Arguing, poor connections, and many other issues arise in everyday life. So how can you avoid them and communicate better with your partner?

To many of us, relationships are the most puzzling, exciting, frustrating, exhausting, fulfilling, emotional, and confusing aspects of our lives.

It’s where we truly learn about ourselves while very often feeling completely powerless in the process.  

A friend from my yoga class recently asked me an interesting question. “What, in your professional opinion, is the most common challenge people face in relationships?” The answer, of course, was easy to come up with, and probably no surprise: Communication! 

In general, women like to think of their partners as mind readers, as though the person they’ve chosen has these innate telepathic abilities. They have an idea, a map, in their minds of precisely how they think their partners should behave and what it is they should say or do, without ever actually communicating any of these assumptions though directly.

RELATED: 5 Tiny-But-Significant Ways To Change How You Speak To Your Partner

Compounding matters further, you then become angry and resentful when your spouse doesn’t do or say exactly what you envisioned. Thinking about this rationally, is there really any questions why over 50 percent of marriages end in divorce?

The "telepathic" communication approach — just hoping and wishing your partner will understand your needs and wants without your guidance — doesn't work. It ends up with you becoming outraged and angry, and it’s just not an effective communication strategy.

If these relationship challenges are left unaddressed, denied, and not given any attention, it can be the source of constant conflict, hurt feelings, and an endless cycles of disappointment.

But there is hope. There is a solution!.

In many ways, communication and learning to speak each other's "languages" is what intimacy is really about. Dealing with the idiosyncrasies of communication can often feel insane. You might even want to ask your partner, “Why can’t you just ask for exactly what you want instead of hinting?”

As frustrating as this may be, these little subtleties — the nuances in your romantic relationships — are the backbone of intimacy, connection, and the fun and play that comes along with learning each other’s language!

This is what makes the experience of a relationship what it is. If you had it all figured out, you’d just be boring robots.

If you struggle to communicate your needs, I bet you have lots of "secret codes" for things you want and need. So how can you get what you need by coming a little closer to center, and do so in a fun and playful way?

Here are 5 ways to communicate better in your relationship to make it stronger than ever.

1. Incorporate play .

Sometimes when a situation seems do-or-die, the best thing to diffuse emotion can be play and humor.

It may feel like an incredibly risky move when emotions are high and seem endlessly complicated to poke at something that is “very serious.” But the fights I’ve been in that ended up getting resolved were always when my partner and I could take a step outside, stop taking ourselves so seriously and find a way to laugh.

Men, this will often be your role, when there’s a window, take it. Warning: This requires keeping a lot of attention to your partner and never coming from a place of being condescending or resentful.

Offer communication with love, with a little more levity than is being experienced in the situation and you may be surprised what ensues.

It may look something like this:

Her: “You are a terrible boyfriend; you never do anything I ask!”

You: “Oh? I’m the world’s worst boyfriend? OK, I agree. And what do you hate about me most?”

RELATED: 6 Communication Tips That Every 'People Person' Knows

2. Take the attention off of yourself .

You’re a feeling being. You almost always know when someone is present or checked out when you’re engaging with them.

In a relationship, it’s especially important to trust that your partner loves and cares about you, isn’t going anywhere, and is committed to making the partnership work.

If you can create that as your baseline level of connection and commit to believing them, your head won’t be as polluted with doubt fear, chatter that you’re not good enough, she doesn’t love you, she’s going to break up with you and leave you for the coworker she always talks about, etc.

When your mind is constantly being filled with those voices, you’re not present and you can’t feel each other. Decide you’re a worthy and capable partner from the start and the attention you’re able to provide will expand, will have you both open and expressing more than you knew was possible.

3. Listen to your body .

You can feel when something doesn’t land or wasn’t received. Listen to how you feel when you’re communicating with your partner. Does it feel open, easy, inflow, or is there charge or residue from perhaps a previous discussion that didn’t get all the way handled?

Trust this and offer, “Did something I said earlier upset you? Is there anything on your mind? Do you need anything from me?”

Trust what you feel and extend yourself to name it. You don’t always have words for what’s going on, but don’t be afraid to venture into potentially difficult territory.

What’s on the other side is more intimacy and connection. Be willing to say the uncomfortable thing and you’ll almost always be rewarded. Be willing to risk for the connection. 

4. Remember that everyone is trying their best  .

When you come from a place of love, compassion, empathy, things have a way of working out for the better.

To the best of your ability, try to remember your partner is their own person, with their own unique flaws and experiences that made them who they are and got them here. They have various skills and challenges, and their whole own set of voices in their head running all the time.

They’re trying their best given the tools they’ve been taught or given. Assume the best in them and make it your goal to help them win with you.

Be as clear as you can when you can’t come back to connection with vulnerability and honesty about where you were coming from and what you need. Ask them to do the same for you.

Sometimes everyone needs a reminder of, “I love you and I’m doing my best.”  

5. Be curious .

It can be difficult to stay conscious during heated or challenging arguments or discussions. As a follow-up, listen to your body, always stay curious.

Use your attention to ask questions, learn what’s going on for your partner. If you’re tuned in and find yourself genuinely curious about a certain statement, comment, trust yourself and ask!

Perhaps there was an answer that landed a certain way in your body. You might ask something like, “What just happened there? What did you mean by that?”

A bonus note is to always ask permission before asking said question. “Can I ask you something?” Then follow up with what you want to know more about.

Remember, if you’re coming from a place of connection, love, and that they’re doing their best, it will come across in your communication and open spots that might have previously been an impasse or stuck place.

RELATED: 6 Communication Skills That Will Help You Love Your Partner Even More After A Fight

Samantha Benigno is a mental and behavioral wellness specialist. Visit her website for more information.