Communication connects us to companionship and community. Couples who pursue positive communication in their relationship put themselves on the right path for building a healthy partnership. They make room in their relationship to create more opportunity for understanding each other’s needs and wants, and that leads to greater cooperation.
Working together is so much better than battling against each other, right? Willingness to cooperate, keeping on the same page, and being there for each other, are ideal ingredients for a mutually satisfying companionship.
Of course, positive communication in a relationship requires effort and commitment. As does most things worthwhile. Any couple wanting their relationship to be fulfilling and meaningful have got to work at it. There’s no genie that’s suddenly going to pop up and grant you the wish of a perfect relationship. But the pursuit of the power of positive communication in your relationship has the prospect of a healthier and happier partnership.
We have all heard the old adage that opposites attract. Now if that notion is true, then sooner or later some fireworks will ignite in the relationship. And even when a couple have strong compatibility, there’ll still be times of disagreements and poles-apart differences. Though in general, that can be okay. Exploring differing views may be helpful and constructive. A way by which we learn and get to know the perspectives of others.
But when we let our communication go south, and turn sour, things can quickly get messy. It is then that tension, stress, frustration or disappointment turn up like moths bee-lining towards a lantern. And, if we let it get out of hand at an early stage, then we will be throwing caution to the wind and buying into communication breakdown 101, boots and all.
Relationships are hard enough for most of us, so let’s scrape away the complicated stuff for the moment and skip to some simple but difference-making steps for communicating. Having or fostering a harmonious and healthy relationship commonly involves three core elements. The 3 central keys at play are… being “HEARD, HELPED and HAPPY”.
Firstly, more than anything, you want to be heard, understood, right? To truly be heard the other person must want to hear, listen actively, and be responsible for clarifying and grasping the message. Therefore, from the get-go, the listener needs to lean in, focus, and remove any margin for error in understanding the message.
One of the things humans are good at, is a tendency to camouflage communication. It may happen intentionally or unintentionally. We may not always express something how we would wish to, or perhaps deliberately hold back full disclosure about a matter. The downside there is a risk of misunderstanding what a partner is really wanting or needing.
What’s important to remember is, there are many nuances to communication. Non-verbal cues like tone and pitch of our voice, and the positioning and gestures of our body, may communicate louder than actual words spoken. On the flip side, if you are being spoken to and you just stand there with arms crossed tightly across the chest, and with pursed lemon lips, and a frowned face, well that’s hardly signalling warmth and openness for positive communication.
The second key step is that we all like being helped. It is a good feeling getting our needs and wants met. When your partner expresses a need or want, it is one thing to be able to acknowledge your understanding of what they’re desiring. But the real nitty-gritty is navigating the process of how to accommodate a partner’s desires or goals. This calls for calmness and flexibility, especially where there’s potential for conflicting views and non-matchable expectations.
If your partner requires help or the resolution about a matter that impacts on the relationship, think cooperation rather than compromise. Try not to look at in terms of having to give up something or making a sacrifice. Instead, see it as an opportunity to collaborate and cooperatively weave a solution respectful of each partner’s needs. If for any reason an argument starts, then it is best to just take time out and talk things through when heads are cooler.
To harness the power of positive communication, you’ve got to own your attitude and actions. If either partner chooses to be stubborn or have a bad attitude, that is taking communication into negative territory. Think of it this way. A bad attitude is a lot like putting diesel into a petrol-powered car. The engine runs rough and you don’t travel far before coming to a complete standstill. All the fuel lines must then be thoroughly flushed clean and the correct petrol fuel added before the car is driveable again.
The lesson here is, don’t let a bad attitude shut down your relationship. Be transparent and honest with each other, keep the communication line clear and free of unhelpful comments. Above all, be certain to add lots of good attitude! Do that, and the odds of salvaging a tricky relationship situation has a bigger chance of succeeding. Therefore, set your sights on finding solutions that strengthen your relationship, accommodating your partner’s needs and wants as far as it is possible to do so. Choose to be a helper not a hinderer, and you’ll take your partnership to higher ground.
Finally, virtually everybody has a fundamental desire to be happy. And if someone makes us happy, usually we will want to make them happy too. A couple who consistently pursue positive communication and work together cooperatively to resolve the issues of life surrounding their relationship, are more likely to enjoy a higher measure of happiness. This is particularly true if the couple are also maintaining other quality social supports such as with family, friends and colleagues.
Happiness is mostly seen as a fleeting experience. Such as may come with the joy and excitement felt when our favourite sporting team wins a grand final. But we can be happy in a more enduring sense. Though many of us are seeking to be happy in a myriad of ways, a lot of times it seems like we’re chasing after a mirage. But when a couple are genuinely and persistently seeking happiness for their partner it may lead to a residual feeling of happiness. That’s not saying we feel happy 100% of the time, because that isn’t realistic. But a couple working together and invested in making their relationship fulfilling and meaningful will go a long way towards keeping their partnership enduringly happy.
Whether you are in a relationship that is doing well or experiencing a rocky patch, much good can come from the pursuit of positive communication. But keep it simple. Remember this, what your partner wants in a nutshell is to be heard, helped and happy. Just focus on making these 3 things happen and then be grateful for healthy wellbeing and happiness swelling up in your partnership.
ROHAN WATSON is a member of the Australian Counselling Association and a general member of the International Association of Applied Neuroscience. He holds graduate and post-graduate qualifications in Psychology, Counselling and Education from Monash University and USQ, including a Master of Counselling (Advanced Practice) degree awarded with Distinction.
As a Psychotherapist, Counsellor and Mental Health Researcher, Rohan is dedicated to helping unlock the potential in people to live happier, healthier, and more purposeful. His Toowoomba Counselling & Coaching service helps people from all walks and seasons of life.
Rohan has facilitated and delivered mental health programs across rural and remote Australia. He provides professional psychotherapy services to employees at all levels nationally through EAP services. Rohan is also a highly sought-after Marriage Counsellor and Relationship Counselling specialist. He has a special interest in the online delivery of wellbeing programs. Rohan’s current research is focusing on workplace mental health in Australian SMEs.