Communication is vital to the success of any relationship, whether it is a parent-child relationship, work relationship or a friendship. However, communication is most important between partners in a marriage. Open, honest communication is a major factor in any successful marriage and the breakdown of this communication is one of the leading causes of turmoil and relationship dissolution.Good communication between partners includes the ability to discuss both significant and trivial subjects openly and honestly without defensiveness, shutting down, condemnation, blame or shame. The ability to maintain a respectful discussion, even when the conversation entails disagreement, dislikes or disapproval is essential to effective, open communication between partners. Not only does good communication include speaking your mind in a respectful manner, but also listening – and really hearing – what your partner has to say as well.If you and your partner already have an openly communicative relationship and are able to respectfully agree to disagree when necessary, while maintaining compassion, integrity and open lines of communication, congratulations! If not, then you are among hundreds of thousands of couples who could use some improvement in their communication style.Some partners simply lack communication skills; however, the good news is that anyone – even you or your partner – can learn effective, assertive communication skills as long as they are willing to assert themselves and practice. If you and your partner are experiencing a breakdown in communication, now is the time to address the issue and find resolution before any more harm is done to the relationship.An important step in repairing communication problems is to determine when the breakdown in communication began. For example, have you and your partner always had communication issues ever since the beginning of your relationship? Or, did your communication skills start out strong and then somehow get lost along the way? With this information, you and your partner can then best determine how to successfully resolve your communication difficulties and get back on track.Some couples cannot remember a time when they ever had open lines of good, consistent communication. If you are among the couples who have experienced a deficiency in communication from the start, there is no better time than the present to address this issue and find ways to improve your communication and, therefore, your relationship. Even if communication has always been an issue, you and your partner can improve your communication and become a closer, stronger couple in the process.There are many reasons for relationships to experience communication issues right from the start. One partner may have feared losing the other if they spoke their mind, starry-eyed partners may have simply believed that love would overcome any significant issues, which therefore did not require discussion, or it could be the case that one partner is simply more assertive than the other, which can easily lead to the less assertive partner simply going along with the more assertive partner.At some point in the relationship the partner that was afraid to speak their mind, or the partner that is generally less assertive, may grow tired of holding their tongue and may attempt to offer opinions, reveal thoughts and beliefs or disagree with the partner that is used to being in charge. When this occurs, it changes the dynamic of the relationship and may initially produce discomfort and disagreements as the couple begins to discuss differences, wants and desires that might have been better addressed in the beginning of the relationship. This same thing can occur when a couple who felt no need to discuss major issues in the beginning of their relationship is finally confronted with a discussion regarding issues on which they may not agree.If any of these cases sound similar to your marriage, the most important first step is to open the lines of communication and begin communicating openly and honestly. While this may cause some discomfort at first, due to the changing relationship, you will find that your partnership will become stronger and closer once you and your partner have improved your communication and agreed to disagree on some issues of debate.Other couples have found that, while they experienced good, open communication in the beginning of their relationship, over time their ability to communicate began to break down. This can occur for many reasons, including overwhelming responsibilities at work, household tasks, family responsibilities or other everyday life factors. Some couples have found that it is dishearteningly easy to shift one’s priorities away from the marriage when partners begin to take each other for granted and allow life to pull them in different directions.If your relationship communication issues fall into this category, now is the time for you and/or your partner to reassess your priorities and place your marriage back in the primary position that it requires and deserves.No matter when or why your communication problems began, or how dismal they may seem at present, good communication can be learned – or revived – with patience, assertiveness, practice and respect. Opening the lines of communication is an essential first step to improving your overall communication and is one of the most important steps you can take in forging – or rebuilding – a strong, close marriage with your partner.
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