Better Communication With Your Partner

November 24, 2010

Better Communication With Your Partner

According to therapist and author Andrew G Marshall, the way we demonstrate love and the way we want it shown to us makes up our “language of love”. This language is as individual as we are and, as such, must be interpreted accurately so we can have successful relationships.

Your language of love, expressed through a combination of words and actions, is specific to you and is based on your experiences in the past plus the influence of factors such as family, society and culture. Unfortunately, many of us make assumptions about how we relate to each other when we’re in love and believe our partners will understand our language of love without us having to clarify our needs.

Communicating love

“It’s easy to think love ends because of some monstrous piece of bad behaviour,” says Marshall, “but more often it decays gradually through a million minor hurts.” Couples end up in counselling or disenchanted with their relationship because one partner feels their love is not returned and, over time, they become detached. To avoid these minor hurts becoming too great a hurdle to breach, you must communicate to your partner the language they need to use in order for you to feel loved and you must also acknowledge the right moves and gestures they make — when they make them.

A lack of attention is how many couples describe the downturn of their relationship. Simply saying “I don’t feel loved” is not enough, though. You must explain why. If your partner thinks they’re doing everything they can to show you how much they love you and you don’t explain your needs, your relationship may be lost. Instead of saying “I don’t feel loved” try saying “I don’t feel as loved any more because we don’t spend time together at the end of the day/I need you to demonstrate your affection through hugs or kisses/I need you to say you appreciate the things I do.”

Unfortunately, we often assume that if our partner really loved us they would intuitively know how to show it appropriately. However, this assumption isn’t a fair one. We all need guidance in understanding each other.

Asking for love

Now that you have determined what it is you need to feel loved, the next step is to take a deep breath and express it. The best time to do this is not in the middle of an argument but when you are calm, relaxed and perhaps away from the house taking a walk, having a picnic or dinner or even going for a drive. Getting away from the everyday can set a platform for easier conversation where you aren’t distracted and you can focus on what’s being said.

Once you’ve talked about how you each need love to be expressed, the way to make sure you act could mean incorporating a quick phonecall into your day, perhaps an email that says “I’m thinking of you”. It may mean sharing your day over a glass of wine when all the chores have been done, or holding each other in bed and talking before you turn out the lights. Maybe it’s dinner out on a monthly basis, a bunch of flowers or a bottle of wine at the end of the week. Perhaps it’s just expressing an interest in how things are going. Whatever the method, love needs to be tended and not taken for granted.

Marshall suggests finishing these two questions as a beginning to thinking about what love means to you:

“I feel most loved when…”

“I am most likely to complain that my partner never…”

The second, says Marshall, is the most telling, as what we complain about most is usually what we long for most.

Take the time to look at the following list and prioritise them. This will give you deeper insight into how you want love to be expressed to you. Do you need to feel:

# Appreciated

# Accepted

# Needed

# Respected

# Safe

# Valued

# Understood

Once you have your list in the right order, think about how your partner could demonstrate these things. For example, if being appreciated is very important to you, perhaps you need your partner to say thank you for all you do in words, or perhaps in occasional gestures such as a voucher for a spa treatment or a special dinner. If you need respect, perhaps you need your partner to ask your advice more often or to show interest in the activities that are important to you.

Nikki Davies is a freelance writer with a special interest in health, lifestyle and relationship issues. Nikki is currently based on the far north coast of New South Wales where she is continuing her research into how we can achieve better relationships.

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