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18 Ways To Communicate Better In Your Relationship

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Working toward a better communication style with your partner will make a world of difference to how close you feel to each other, while improving the health and longevity of your relationship.

This requires you to go beyond day-to-day conversations and dig deeper into your ingrained behavioral patterns, love languages, and approaches to conflict.

The more you discover about your own, and each other’s, communication styles, the happier you’ll both be!

How To Better Communicate With Your Partner

1. Create a space you both feel safe in.

One of the most important pillars of good communication is validating each other’s feelings. That means creating a space where you can both honestly voice your opinion and know that, even if you disagree with each other, you can safely and comfortably express yourselves.

This revolves around mutual respect—don’t raise your voice, don’t get aggressive, and don’t shut your partner down when they express something you disagree with.

Of course, it’s easier said than done, and we’re all humans with unique experiences and emotions that impact how we react. But it’s important to honor each other as much as possible at all times.

That means listening to each other and taking the time to talk things through, whether you see them as positive or negative. If your partner is upset about something, be supportive and show you care by validating their feelings and offering advice if they want it.

2. Check whether they want to vent or if they need support.

When your partner complains to you about something, what’s the first thing you do? Most of us try to offer advice straightaway—we assume they’re venting because they want a solution, so we do our best to fix things for them. However, this isn’t always what’s needed or wanted.

While it’s up to your partner to let you know what they need from you at the time, you can check in with a simple prompt like: “Do you need to offload or do you want support in finding a solution?”

This allows them to reflect on what they need from the interaction, and it shows them that you care, that you’re listening, and that you want to give them what they need from you, even if that’s just sitting and letting them rant or cry.

You might be surprised to find that, more often than not, people complain because they want to know that they’re justified in how they feel. They want to know that it wasn’t their fault and that they’re allowed to be upset. They don’t necessarily need you to fix things.

By showing up and holding the space for your partner to offload, you’re communicating in a great way. We often think of communicating as talking, but listening is a hugely important part of it, too!

3. Discover your love languages.

Getting to know how you each communicate as individuals is key to improving your communication in your relationship.

This will enable you to strengthen your communication skills as you’ll learn how to meet each other’s needs better. The more you can do to show up in the ways your partner most wants, the more trust you build up in the relationship.

To make it more of a bonding activity, spend an evening together taking the love language quiz. Not only will you discover the best way to communicate with each other, but you’ll also have the chance to get to know each other, and yourself, on a deeper level.

You might find that you already know the best way to communicate with your partner, but you may also be surprised! Perhaps they feel appreciated when you speak words of affirmation to them while you need them to show they care by performing acts of service. Remember: communication doesn’t only involve talking!

Once you know what works best for them, you can work to establish new ways of communicating that will better resonate with them. Communication isn’t just about what you contribute, it’s about ensuring the other person feels comfortable expressing themselves, too.

4. Practice active listening.

Communication isn’t just about output, it’s about listening—even more specifically, it’s about active listening.

That means that you can’t just sit in silence while your partner talks, but that you show you’re listening by nodding, reacting, commenting, or asking questions every so often.

This shows your partner that you’re paying attention and that you care; you’re invested in what they’re talking about as opposed to just waiting for them to finish.

Imagine if the situation were reversed—you’d want to know your partner is paying attention to what you’re talking about, and you’d want them to be excited about the things you’re passionate about.

Create this environment for your partner by showing you care and that you want to be involved in their lives, whether it’s small talk about their day or big conversations about their future.

This is an important strategy to start implementing, especially if your partner tends to offload a lot. They may simply need to feel heard before they can move on, and your active listening will help them feel validated and supported.

5. Set boundaries and use timeouts.

Healthy relationships are centered around respect—which means establishing boundaries and taking space when needed.

You might encounter some triggering conversation topics that will automatically upset you or make you anxious or defensive when they’re brought up.

While it’s understandable that different things trigger us all, we can’t expect our partners to know what they are unless we tell them. Have a serious conversation and communicate to your partner about any problematic topics.

Once you explain why you feel the way you feel, they’ll be able to respect your boundaries as much as possible. Remember that they’re human and may not always get it right—it’s the thought that counts—and they can only do that if you arm them with the knowledge they need.

The same goes for timeouts. If you know that you tend to need space during or after big conflicts, you’re responsible for letting your partner know. You might think it’s obvious, but they’re not mind-readers and they may have had very different experiences in previous relationships.

Part of being a good communicator is letting the other person know what doesn’t work for you, just as much as what does. When it comes to communication, we often don’t think about how effective it is until a conflict arises.

It’s only then that we realize the disparity between our communication styles and the conflict can escalate, forming a vicious cycle of behavior.

6. Make notes for tricky conversations.

If you tend to get overwhelmed by difficult conversations, you may feel as though you need to improve your communication skills. It’s totally natural to find tricky conversations… tricky!

You might forget what you wanted to say, or worry you’ve hurt their feelings and backtrack, or you might just avoid having conversations that make you feel uncomfortable.

Rather than shutting down or hiding how you really feel, don’t be afraid to make notes. We’re not suggesting you put together a PowerPoint presentation detailing what you’re upset about, but you can run through it in your head a few times and make some notes to help you stay on track.

There’s nothing wrong with letting your partner know that you’re doing this either. Chances are they will appreciate your honesty and love that you care so much about making the relationship work that you’ve put effort into it and gone beyond your comfort zone.

7. Identify patterns that are keeping you stuck.

Being a good communicator is like being good at anything else—it takes time and practice! Reviewing your input and behavior is so important to improving your communication skills.

Reflect on how you reacted during the last difficult conversation you had with your partner, and consider what you could have done differently. The more often you do this, the more you’ll notice any patterns or tendencies you have that may be holding you back.

You might want to ask your partner for feedback and evaluate the impact your behavior has on them, but we’d suggest starting this exercise on your own at first to ensure you’re being as honest as possible with yourself.

You might notice that you often bring up past issues that were supposedly resolved, or that there are certain grudges you’re holding onto that make their way into each fresh disagreement.

While that’s understandable and may even be relevant, think about what this actually contributes to the conversation and the long-term effects it may be having on your relationship.

Is it keeping you, and your partner, stuck in the past or is it helping you move forward? You probably know the answer already, but it’s worth implementing this kind of self-reflective strategy to dig a little deeper, take accountability for your actions, and work together to improve your communication.

8. Be clear when it comes to conflicts.

Arguing is something that happens in every relationship, whether it’s platonic or romantic. If two people never argue, one of them is lying or holding back. It’s impossible for us to experience the exact same emotions and reactions to every single thing at the same time!

Arguing and disagreeing is a normal, even healthy, part of a relationship, and it’s nothing to be scared of. It doesn’t mean anything is wrong or that the relationship is doomed (unless it becomes a pattern or problem), and there are ways to manage disagreements so that you both become better communicators and develop a stronger, healthier bond.

It can be difficult to communicate when you’re upset or worked up, and you might not be in the best place to “use your words.” That’s why it’s important to practice arguing—it sounds weird, but it makes such a difference. You can learn how to raise issues in a healthy way that leads to an overall improvement in your relationship.

Rather than being wishy-washy or beating around the bush, be clear about what the issue is and why. That doesn’t mean nagging your partner endlessly or starting a screaming match; it means explaining what has happened and why it bothers you.

It could be something new, in which case you need to take the time to explain why it’s upsetting you and how you can find a solution together. It might also be something that has come up multiple times and is becoming part of a loop of negative patterns.

If your partner has a tendency to apologize but keeps doing the same thing, you’re probably struggling to keep your cool. Calmly, clearly explain what’s happening and why it upsets you, and find a way to compromise so that you’re both having your needs met.

Part of this involves understanding where they’re coming from. Maybe they genuinely forgot that something bothers you, or they just don’t notice the crumbs on the table/the mess they made in the living room/the fact that there’s an imbalance in domestic labor, and so on.

Learn how to meet in the middle by communicating why something is important. Your partner may not remember to always wipe the sink down. However, if you tell them how it makes you feel, it can drive them to start creating more positive patterns of behavior. 

9. Be honest.

One of the scariest things when it comes to communicating with a partner is honesty. You might worry that you’re being “too much” or that you’ll be seen as needy or negative, depending on the type of things you tend to talk about with each other.

But honesty is so important in relationships. The more you can practice honesty, even if it’s in small amounts at first, the more intimacy you’ll start to develop in your relationship—and that’s what really builds longevity.

You might need to work on trust levels with your partner at first, especially if you’ve been hurt in previous relationships, but the end result will be worth the hard work!

Start small and share snippets of how you feel, your experiences, and your desires. It might be as simple as being more truthful about how your day at work was, or about things that have frustrated you. Or, you might want to go back and share things from your childhood or before you met.

The more you practice, the more comfortable you’ll feel with it—and the better your communication will become overall.

Once you get used to sharing truthfully, it will become so much easier to navigate disagreements—knowing that they care about you and value your experiences will give you the comfort and trust you need to be open with them! 

10. Don’t be scared to express your needs.

A lot of us see communication as giving feedback, and when we think of problems with communicating, it’s about negative scenarios. We worry how to tell someone they’ve upset us or that they’ve done something wrong, for example.

One of the healthiest ways to rapidly improve your communication skills is to talk about your needs before you assess whether or not they’re being met. Rather than telling someone they’re not meeting your needs after it’s happened, make sure they know from the start what those needs are.

You wouldn’t ask a waiter to bring you a meal and then complain because it’s not vegetarian—you’d let them know you don’t eat meat and then tell them the kind of thing you like.

That way, you get a meal you know works for you, and the waiter has been able to make an informed decision. If the waiter brings you a steak knowing that you’re vegetarian, you’re then well within your rights to complain.

It’s just the same with relationships—if your partner doesn’t know what you’re feeling or thinking, or what you need, how can they be expected to get it right? And, importantly, how is it fair to criticize them for not getting it right?

Focus on communicating positively. Unless you’re reading this during the first 3 months or so of your relationship, the ship may have sailed in terms of establishing your needs early.

You’ll now have to introduce your needs to the established relationship, which can be tricky! Work on positive reinforcement. Rather than blindsiding your partner with, “You never put the laundry away, and it drives me crazy,” aim for, “Thanks so much for putting the laundry away, it makes me feel so much less stressed and it means so much.” Which method will get them to complete this household chore more often?

We all want to feel valued in our relationships, and a huge part of that comes from knowing our partner feels happy, loved, and safe with us. By positively reinforcing behavior that meets your needs, you’re letting your partner know what you value and what makes you feel heard and seen in the relationship.

This is something you both need to work on. If your feelings have been dismissed or ignored in the past, you might find it very hard to be open and tell people what you want from them. This is natural, but it’s a communication pattern you need to break free from before it becomes a bigger problem.

11. Make time to reconnect after conflict.

Communication can start to break down after a heated discussion or argument, and it takes a lot of effort to get back to your usual level sometimes. That’s why making time for reconnection is key.

You might be feeling distant or rejected by your partner following conflict, and, if it goes unaddressed, that can fester away and turn into feelings of resentment and deeper anger.

To avoid that happening, agree to reconnect when you both feel ready—ideally on the same day—and have some time where you put everything else aside.

The rule is that neither of you can talk about what happened, and you both exist in a little “bubble” of isolation. Set a time to revisit whatever you argued about (if it needs revisiting), and enjoy the time before then as a couple.

This might be cuddling and watching TV, cooking with a glass of wine, or going for a walk and catching up on your day. Whatever it is, make it something you both enjoy that brings you closer and reminds you of your strong foundation and the mutual love and respect you share.

12. Take responsibility for your actions.

Arguing or disagreeing with our loved ones can quickly become heated because we trust them and feel comfortable. It becomes easy to get carried away and cross a line.

Just like we’re on our best behavior around people we don’t know well enough to show our true, full selves to, we can be on our worst behavior around those that we know will love us unconditionally.

When our partners or loved ones cross a line, we expect them to apologize. We can see, even with our feelings aside, that they’ve been inappropriate or gone too far, and we want the “justice” of having our feelings validated through an apology.

They’ll feel exactly the same way when we’re the ones who cross a line, and they deserve an apology for the same reasons.

Saying sorry can be hard, and our egos can get in the way. Ultimately, you need to consider if not apologizing is worth it. Pick your battles wisely!

When things get heated, it’s all too easy to blame the other person. We might feel embarrassed by how we acted and therefore project our feelings on the other person by shaming them for their actions. Or, we might shut down emotionally and pull away.

Either way, it’s difficult to evaluate our role in this disagreement when we’re in the moment. Take a step back after a conflict and think through what you said and did. Were you reacting to the thing that happened or were you projecting existing, buried feelings onto your partner as well? Did you respond appropriately or proportionally to what happened?

It might be that you were well within your rights to behave the way you did, but it might be that you overreacted or crossed a line. If this is the case, read ahead to our next step…

13. Apologize when necessary.

Apologizing is a cornerstone of communication, especially when it comes to relationships. It shows that you’re humble enough to take accountability for your actions, and it shows you respect your partner and care about their feelings.

Saying sorry sometimes needs to happen even when you’re not the one in the wrong. This can be tricky, and a lot of our egos don’t enjoy it, but it can go a long way in a relationship! This is one of the critical signs of being a good communicator, and it is a great skill to learn how to execute with grace.

Remember that an apology without a behavior change isn’t an apology; it’s just empty words. That goes for your partner as well as you, and it means that you’re accountable for adjusting your actions, too.

Rather than simply saying you’re sorry, reaffirm the notion by explaining that you understand how you made them feel and that you will try your best not to do it again. Detail how you’ll avoid repeating the mistake in the future, and then, this is key, follow through on that plan and put in the effort to change.

If you’ve committed to not shout during arguments because it triggers your partner, then make sure you stick to that as best you can. While you are human, you’re also in a relationship, which means ensuring your partner feels safe and able to communicate.

14. Remember you’re a TEAM.

A great way to focus on your communication in a relationship is by prioritizing it. When you’re comfortable with your partner, you might find yourself slipping into old habits.

While this is a lovely situation to be in, it’s important to keep working on better communication and learning to strengthen your connection. To make it easier to commit to, you can follow this easy 4-step approach (we’d suggest making time each day to go through the steps together):

T—Touch. A level of physical connection is really important in most relationships. That means making time to connect, hug, kiss, and be intimate with each other in any way that works for you both. Most of us live busy lives, and taking the time to reconnect each day will pay off as a long-term habit.

E—Education. Talk about something that you found interesting that day, whether it’s something you heard on the radio or something you discovered at work. It might be relevant to your relationship or it might be something random that you throw into the conversation.

A—Appreciation. This is a great one to do at the end of each day and can help you reconnect after a stressful day with work and kids. Compliment your partner on their appearance or how they showed up in your relationship (like cooking dinner, tidying up, listening to you offload). Mix it up each evening and make sure you both take a turn.

M—Metrics. This one can be difficult as it involves a lot of postponing of feelings, but, if you both commit to it, it pays off. Rather than criticizing your partner or giving them “feedback” multiple times a day, save it up and discuss any big issues at the end of the day. This way, it’s not so much that you’re nagging, you’re just taking time to constructively work on bigger issues together.

This is a really easy way to remember to prioritize communication in your relationship. You’ll quickly get used to this exercise and it will become part of your daily routine. If you tend to have rushed evenings, you might want to set a reminder to ensure you make time to connect like this.

You’ll quickly find that you feel closer as a couple as this commitment strengthens, and your communication in other areas of your life will improve, too.

Now that you’re used to giving “feedback” in a positive, structured way, you’ll both start to feel more comfortable with day-to-day comments or requests from each other. It will no longer feel like you’re nagging/being nagged, and you’ll build more intimacy as well—win-win!

15. Be mindful of non-verbal communication.

A large percentage of how we communicate has nothing to do with what comes from our mouths. If you’ve ever muted your TV, you will have noticed that you can still grasp quite a lot of what’s going on from body language alone. Are their arms crossed, are they looking at their feet, is there a lot of forearm touching?

People make entire careers out of reading body language for a reason—it tells us so much about how people are feeling, both consciously and subconsciously. To become a good communicator, you need to be aware of what’s going on with the rest of your body.

It’s worth taking a few days to simply observe what goes on around you—are people pointing their feet at the person they’re talking to, or are their feet facing away as if they’re ready to up and run at any point?

Are they keeping their arms folded because they’re getting defensive or because they’re cold? How about eye contact—do they hold your gaze or are they always looking over your shoulder?

Small things like this will become so obvious the more you look out for them. Practicing observation like this is a great strategy to put in place as it will then allow you to look at yourself and how you act, too.

When you’re talking to your partner, start being mindful of how you’re acting. Are you talking to them while your back is turned because you’re doing something else? If so, this might imply that you have something more important to focus on and you can’t be bothered to turn around.

This will probably make them feel as though what they’re saying isn’t of importance to you and they’re likely to feel less valued than if you stopped what you were doing and gave them your full attention.

If you cross your arms over your body while you’re asking them to help you with something, it may come across as though you’re shutting down and you’re angry already—this will make them feel defensive straight away and is more likely to lead to conflict than if you used open body language and asked them for a favor.

16. Take time to find mutual ground.

If you’re working on becoming a good, more effective communicator, you might want to consider expanding your areas of common ground.

Imagine you and your partner are a Venn diagram—you both have your own lives and interests, your friendship circles and jobs, but you have an overlap in the middle that makes the relationship work.

If you want to get better at communicating, try this exercise:

Once a week, think of something on their side of the Venn diagram that you don’t know much about. That might be their gaming hobby that you’re not involved in at all or their running club, for example.

Start a conversation with your partner about it and ask questions—without going into a full-on formal interview. Make it your mission to find out as much as possible, not just about the details, but about how it makes them feel. Hearing someone you love talk about something they’re passionate about is not only attractive, but it’s incredibly special to share.

You might go as far as to invite yourself to join them in an activity they love (if they’re open to it), or you may just want to stick with asking questions. Either way, you’ll find out more about them, you’ll build up the trust between you, and you’ll develop healthy communication patterns and learn how to get through to each other.

You might encourage them to do the same back and ask you about your childhood, your career before they met you, and so on. Finding out as much as you can about each other’s part of your combined Venn diagram is a great way to bond and learn even more about each other.

It keeps the relationship exciting and it gives you both the chance to share something important to you with your partner. The more you know about their side of the Venn diagram, the bigger the mutual bit in the middle becomes—and the stronger your relationship becomes.

17. Mix things up in how your have conversations.

If you’re stuck in a bit of a rut, you’ll probably notice that you both tend to shut down around each other when it’s just the two of you. You might find that you watch TV in silence rather than talk to each other or your only form of communication some days is arguments.

This can happen when you’ve been with your partner for a long time, when the honeymoon phase is over and you feel as though there’s nothing “new” in the relationship to talk about. You might feel as though you know everything about each other, but this won’t be the case!

You might want to try card games that are designed to prompt conversations between couples. These cards often involve personal questions, such as: “Tell me about your childhood,” or, “Who was your first love?”

Alternatively, consult our list of 101 questions to ask your partner. These types of questions can ignite memories that you might not have previously shared with each other.

They can be a great way to connect with your partner and improve your communication skills together. They build trust, often rekindle romance, and, importantly, get you talking again.

18. Involve friends and family in conversations.

If you’re finding it hard to connect with each other, it might be because you’re both aware of that struggle and it’s putting a lot of pressure on the relationship.

Rather than addressing the fact that communication is tricky, you both avoid talking about it, and the problem grows even bigger.

A strategy you can utilize here is group chats. Instead of focusing on one-on-one communication (which is still important!), try to get other people involved. The dynamic hugely shifts whenever we include friends or loved ones, as other people always bring out different elements of our personalities.

They also see us differently and can ask us questions based on how they interpret our moods, which may be different to the questions your partner would ask you based on how they interpret your moods.

Your friends also have different stories and experiences that they’ve shared with you that they can bring up and talk about with you. That shifts things around and will encourage different conversations from the ones you might have when it’s just you and your partner.

By involving other people, you’re opening the relationship up to a huge new selection of dialogues, which is likely to spark further conversation between the two of you.

Your partner’s friends might talk about something that happened when they met back in college—maybe it’s a story you’ve never heard before and can bring up later and ask about.

Equally, your parents might share photos of you as a kid and your partner might then want to ask you questions and share new stories with you in return. Essentially, fresh stories and opinions can shift things around a bit and give you more to talk about!


So, those were our top tips on how to improve communication within your relationship. Remember that it’s a two-way street, and it’s something that will endlessly evolve as your relationship continues.

The more you commit to working on your communication style, the more your partner will want to get involved, too. Soon, you’ll both be expert communicators with a stronger, healthier, happier relationship to enjoy!

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About The Author

Lucy is a travel and wellness writer currently based in Gili Air, a tiny Indonesian island. After over a year of traveling, she’s settled in paradise and spends her days wandering around barefoot, practicing yoga and exploring new ways to work on her wellbeing.