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Improve your relationships

How to communicate with your partner

Effective communication is the cornerstone of a happy relationship. But it’s not always the first thing we do after a hard day at work! Here are a few ways that will help keep your conversations honest, open and rewarding.

  1. Pay close attention: Once couples become comfortable with each other they tend to pay less attention to one another. Listen carefully, even when discussing a contentious issue, and be aware of how negative you might sound to your spouse.
  2. Fight fair: We’re all critical at times, but when people are criticized they can become defensive. The result? A counter-attack leading to an argument about who is more wrong, rather than each of you trying to understand the other’s point of view.
  3. Get help: Sometimes couples need outside counselling. Talking to someone else helps focus the issues, diffuse situations and can help you really talk and listen to each other.
  4. 20 questions: Try this exercise with your partner. Over dinner, just the two of you, try asking each other 20 questions. Find out what kind of pet they’d choose. Ask what their favourite colour is and why? What is their favourite food and how do they like it cooked? Though you may think you know the answers, sometimes the responses will surprise you. And the simple act of talking about these things, helps make your relationship seem fresh.
  5. Bring back the romance: Nothing helps start a happy conversation better than bringing romance into it. So say, “I love you”. Or make a playlist of favourite songs, or show up with a surprise gift — it doesn’t have to be expensive. It all helps you communicate without a lot of words.

How well do you know your partner?

Answer each of these questions with a yes or a no. When you are done, count up the number of no’s you have — then check our answer guide below.

  1. Do you remember your partner’s birthday or anniversary?
  2. Do you tell your partner you love him/her frequently?
  3. Do you always make up before you go to bed after a quarrel?
  4. Do you know your partner’s favourite song, movie or book?
  5. Do you know when your partner is depressed or stressed out from work?

Answers

  • 0 or 1 NO = great communication skills
  • 1 or 2 NO’s = you know your partner pretty well — is there a question you’re not asking?
  • 2 or 3 NO’s = take a few minutes each day and check in with each other
  • 3 or 4 NO’s = sit down together and devote some time to communicating
  • 4 or 5 NO’s = time to take time to rebuild your communications skills
How to communicate with your partner
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