Communicating as a couple
No new language required, just the skills to talk things through and keep your relationship running smoothly.
People relate to one another in different ways, and not always directly. Often, you can tell what someone is trying to say through body language. So, if you're scoring on someone whose arms and legs remain firmly crossed, it might be a good time to make your excuses and get your coat. Often, however, it's down to instinct. "I notice that if men look at you in the eyes, they seem to be the ones that like you," says Christine. "Simple touching is another sign that they like you. For example, patting you on the leg, rubbing your back or your arm, wrestling around, tickling you."
Other times, it's what is not said that speaks volumes. In this situation, unless you're a mind reader, you may miss out on critical information - and a situation goes from bad to worse. "If I think there is an issue with something which would affect the relationship I'll bring it up," says Rachael.
In a relationship, clear communication is vital to making things work. Unless you share your innermost thoughts and feelings, the bond between you can quickly fray. Without knowing what really makes you both tick, you risk misunderstanding creeping in, even resentment. "I never keep any issues to myself," confesses Chris. "I like to bring everything out into the open, maybe even argue about it a little bit. As long as it gets solved, I'm happy, and there's no way for it to get solved unless you let the other person know that it's a problem."
On paper, talking openly might seem like common sense. In practice, it's often not so easy to express what you really want to say. All kind of complications can kick in, from a fear of a bad response to choosing the wrong time to talk. Whatever the case, it's vital that you overcome all obstacles to ensure you're on the same wavelength. Josie thinks it's all about forcing the subject. "When my boyfriend is avoiding an issue I usually try to bring up things to see why it bothers him," she says. "If it's really touchy I leave it alone - I just think some people need to have things kept to themselves. I'm perfectly OK with that."
The skills you need
Be a listener: If you can list the issues in your relationship that trouble you, tear it up right now. Steam in with demands and you'll put your partner on the defensive. To kick-start a healthy conversation, go in with a good question, even if you have to begin with one about your relationship in general, and be prepared to let them talk.
Respect any differences: It would be a very dull relationship if you agreed about everything. A conflict of opinion is a healthy thing, after all. It shows you're individuals, capable of forming your own beliefs, as well as debating them. Even if you disagree with each other about major life issues, mutual respect will encourage you to find a way forward.
Meet in the middle: Compromise is crucial when it comes to negotiating your way through any relationship. A listening ear and respect for your partner's viewpoint will ensure you keep talking to one another. Flexibility is what's needed for a solution you can both agree upon.
Review your decision: Put your proposed solution into practice for a while, and see how things work out. Just be sure to review how things are going so you can make any necessary adjustments.
With practice and experience, you'll find these basic relationship skills will become second nature. From choosing a movie on a Friday night to feeling like you need more space for your romance to thrive, it means you can take responsibility for any situation, and seek a positive outcome together.
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