Let’s be real here. If you have been in a relationship for a long time, you may have gotten too comfortable with it. You may have let some things start to slip. Communication is often the first thing to go. This article provides you tips to rebuild communication in your long-term relationship.
One of the key benefits of being with someone for the long haul is that you do not have to act perfect all the time. You can wear pajamas all day around the house without guilt. You can tell them some of their jokes really are not that funny. Once you reach a certain point, you stop feeling like you have to be your best self every moment to make them see how great you are. Having a romantic relationship that allows you to feel secure is a gift. You should cherish that relationship. But instead, we often start to let some things go. We start to take our partner, and our connection with them, for granted. This happens in a hundred small ways, but I believe one of the biggest ways is in how to communicate with them.
When we stop taking the time to fully communicate with one another, we set ourselves up to lose the magic of the connection you worked so hard to build in the beginning. Instead of remembering how much we love and appreciate the person we spend so much of our time with, we start failing to make our communications with them valuable.
Now I understand that we are all busy and have a million and one things on our minds. I am not saying that every communication is going to be used to strengthen your bond. But I do think there are some small adjustments we can make to be sure we are not letting the communication in our relationships deteriorate.
So here are 10 small tweaks that can keep your communication in your long-term relationship where it needs to be.
Ask them how their day was.
When you come home, don’t you like being greeted warmly? I know I like it when I am asked about my day. It makes me feel like listened to. I am not saying do this every single day, but at least a couple of times a week. This is especially important when they have a lot going on outside of the home. This opens the door for them to vent briefly if they need to.
Don’t lose your manners.
How many times have you just hollered at your partner from another room to get something for you. Probably a hundred in the past month. It is a natural occurrence. But make sure you are throwing in a please and thank you too a good chunk of the time. Also, if you do something gross like burp, you need to excuse yourself. It drives me crazy when my partner does this or any other nasty, rude thing and says nothing. I don’t care if you have been together for 50 years, manners are still required.
Think before you say something that may be upsetting.
You know how when you are first dating you carefully consider what words to use before approaching a touchy topic? Well you should still do a similar process even once you are in an established relationship. The other person still has feelings that you should be considering. Take the time to think through how to say what you need to say in the best possible way. If you want to rebuild communication with your partner, you have to remember to always be considerate of their feelings.
Don’t automatically go on the defensive.
This one my partner actually added to the list. I asked him what he thought was the biggest thing that has changed about our communication from when we first got together. He said that we automatically get defensive when certain topics come up. As time passes and you grow closer, you know which conversations often lead to disagreements. It creates triggers any time that topic is brought up. We go on the defensive because we are anticipating a problem, which is a key factor in what direction the rest of that talk will go. Try to limit your preconceived thoughts and be open to tough conversations without being triggered and going on the defensive.
Take the time to listen even if it isn’t your interest.
This is often a struggle in my house. We are busy people and when one of us starts talking about something the other person either knows nothing about, or just is plain not interested in knowing about, the other one tunes out to focus on something else. It is a really terrible way to treat someone you love. Often, it leads to them choosing to talk to someone else who will actually listen. I know I don’t want my partner to ever feel like he has to reach out to someone else to feel interesting and listened to. We actively work on listening even when it doesn’t excite us because we know that is part of solid communication.
Clarify your message.
You need to make sure your words are being taken the way you want to them to be. Sometimes you will have to make your intent clear as well. So many couples fight because of the way a message is worded, and not the actual message. Think about what you want your end goal to be and adjust your phrasing until you are sure your partner will know exactly what that is.
Be clear and specific when discussing needs.
Just as you need to clarify your message to be sure your goals are understood, you need be very clear about your needs. More than that, you need to be specific. I have said this time and time again, when stating your needs you have to come to the table with a plan to get them met. You need to be able to tell your partner their exact role. Is that watching the kids so you can have an afternoon to be by yourself? Tell them that. What happens a lot is people are vague about what they need and no one knows how to proceed. You can scream at your partner that you want more time to yourself, but if you really want that need met, come with an actionable plan. You are far more likely to succeed. Yes, your partner knows you, but that does not mean they should somehow magically know specifically how to meet every need.
Be mindful of your tone and faces.
This one is pretty standard. We know we can all get a tone to our voice, or make a nasty face, when someone says something we don’t like. These are often adjusted for the public, but not at home with our partners. Why do we choose to give more courtesy to strangers than the one person we love more than anything? Seems pretty ridiculous, right? So take the time to be mindful of your non-verbal signals when you feel yourself becoming frustrated. Your message will be much better received if you were polite and kind when your partner was delivering theirs.
Compliments and words of appreciation are always necessary.
Never stop complimenting the person you love. Don’t stop telling them how much you appreciate them and all the things they do. Actions like these are what keeps the passion going. When life gets routine, a well worded compliment or token of appreciation makes all the difference. Start using these things just a few times a week and see what a difference it makes to rebuild communication in your relationship.
Understand that time and quiet may be your best resources.
Silence can be your friend. A little time alone to think is good. When you are in a long-time relationship, you get so used to the other person being there that when you are upset with each other, you want to keep talking until it is resolved. You are missing one of the most beautiful things about being in a strong, stable relationship. You can give that other person space to cool off, and give yourself that too, without wondering if you will never hear from them again. When things escalate, take a time out. You may only need a half-hour to be able to come back together and come to a happy resolution without a lot of the unhealthy back-and-forth that often comes from trying to force it.
I hope you use these ten tips to rebuild communication in your long-term relationship. I also strongly encourage you to sign up for my 30 day Communication Challenge to get even more tips and resources to improve your communication. Sign up below!