My job is to take two people, pair them up, and send them on their merry way to getting married. But the matchmaking goes far beyond mushy gushy-ville. Clients will circle back to me with all sorts of relationship questions and my answer to almost everything they ask is communication, communication, communication. Really, communication is the biggest factor to making a relationship work. Communicate well and you’ll be golden all the way through your golden anniversary. Easier said than done, I know. So, here’s my down and dirty three point cheat sheet to becoming an awesome communicator.
Listen without interrupting
Whenever your guy is talking, you should be listening. And I mean 100% listening. Not just watching his lips move (even is they’re irresistable) or planning what you’re going to say next. Or waiting for your turn to speak. Listen to him and his thoughts fully and don’t interrupt, even if you disagree. Actually, especially if you disagree. Wait for him to finish and then share your take on the situation.
Think before you speak
Before a big fight or tense talk, really think about what you want the resolution to be and what you can say to get there. I tell my clients to write out their main points and bring the notes with them to the talk. When the drama is on, it’s hard to think straight and say what you really mean. And communication is all about saying what you mean. Help yourself and think it out before a big talk.
Never say never
When you’re fighting with your man, try to avoid words like “never” and “always.” As in, “You’re never on time,” or “You’re always late.” Words like that paint with a really broad stroke and can make problems seems insurmountable. You’ll put him on the defense immediately. Instead, get super specific. For example, “When you were late to dinner last week, I felt like a chump eating the bread basket by myself. I wish you texted,” feels easy to fix. All he needed to do was send one text. Next time he can totally do that. But, “I hate that you’re always late. It makes me want to end this!” is overstating the problem and completely not focusing on a solution. What’s the guy supposed to do to fix this? It feels impossible. So be specific and solution oriented.
Good communication is obviously more than a three-step checklist, but these are the biggies. If you nail them, your relationship will be in pretty good shape. And I hate to state the obvious here, but communication is a two way street. If you’re the only one checking these off, they’re not going to work. So, go ahead and share these tips with your boo. With both of you being awesome communicators, you’ll be able to communicate your way through every relationship hurdle!
P.s. Counseling can be a great way to open the lines of communication. Aren’t you excited to see how it works for Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee in Hope Springs? Go see it with your girlfriends for some good ol’ rom-com relationship advice.