Effective Communication With Your Partner

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Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Nowadays, you are likely spending more time with your partner than ever before. Navigating this newfound togetherness, while also dealing with the stress of a global pandemic, can put additional strain on your relationship. How do you voice your frustrations in a calm way? How do you let your partner know you are struggling today or need extra support? How do you ask your live-in partner for space? Effective communication with partner is always important, but especially when you are living in close quarters. Talking in open, honest, and empathic ways can alleviate stress for yourself, and also unite you and your partner during this harrowing period. 

Your relationship may look and feel different in this time of swirling chaotic energy, and that is okay. In addition to COVID-19, we just experienced a monumental presidential election, with civil rights protests occurring around the country. Combined, all of this can feel overwhelming. It would be expected that your needs might have changed during this time, and this could be true for your partner as well. The tips below can help you in the current circumstances but are also relevant for any time of uncertainty in the future. Instead of allowing the chaos to put a wedge between you and your partner, through effective communication, it can bring you even closer together. Here are a few tips on facilitating effective communication with your partner.

Honesty

Although this may seem obvious, it is important to share how you are feeling with your partner. Now that we are spending more time at home, little things like dirty dishes in the sink could feel like a bigger deal. It is important to discuss matters when they come up in a noncritical way. For example, you may want to renegotiate household rules by creating a chart to keep your space in an agreed upon state. This helps limit small issues from growing into bigger problems. By speaking up in the present, you are not left weighed down by stress. Confrontation may make you nervous. However, by speaking your truth, you are better able to connect with your partner and work through these things together, rather than deal with them alone. 

Active listening

As much as sharing is important, you should also be willing to hear your partner’s concerns. They may be having a very different experience than you are. Giving your partner your total focus and maintaining eye contact and awareness of body language can strongly influence the tone and direction of your conversation. Imagine how you feel when someone seems disinterested in what you are saying versus when they are showing complete engagement. This may be challenging, but eliminating distractions like phones or background noise can assist in balanced communication.

Read more: How to Have a Difficult Conversation with a Loved one

Managing our emotions

It is normal to have fluctuating emotions during a time of struggle. Instead of trying to hide or run from those emotions, honor them. Try to understand how they may impact communicating with your partner. Sharing how you feel with your partner could bring relief. Although you and your partner may not always feel the same way, you may find your partner shares in some of your feelings. Choosing not to share what you are feeling can create even greater isolation during a time when you may already feel disconnected from others. 

When you find yourself communicating with your partner and emotions begin to overwhelm you, it is okay to take a pause. It can be difficult to listen or respond when we are distracted by feelings rising inside us. If you are on the other side of this scenario, be patient with your partner and give them the time they need to fully form their thoughts. This will allow for a more successful experience for both partners. 

Alone time

Whether you are in a small apartment or a spacious home, it can be difficult to vocalize your need to spend time apart. It may be beneficial to create a schedule, which will provide structure for both you and your partner. In a time of chaos, having both quiet time alone and an organized plan could bring you both some peace. Do not be afraid to ask for what you need. It is also okay if your partner does not require the same amount of alone time as you do. This is something you can explore together. Remember, you may be learning new things about your partner that you never knew before.

Watch: Refresh Your Relationship by Renegotiating It.

Intimacy

We all have different relationships with sex and intimacy. You and your partner likely have an understanding of how you show affection to one another and what intimate activities you both enjoy. It is okay if that has changed due to COVID-19. Your sex drive may be lower, but together you can explore new ways to engage with one another. The key is to communicate what feels right and what does not. Maybe hugging or hand holding takes a more prominent role during this time. Either way, do not be ashamed if things feel different with all that is going on around you. 

Remember that intimacy and sexual acts are not mutually exclusive. However, intimacy may be something both of you are craving due to the isolating nature of the pandemic. It is also possible that you may want to try new things with your partner. Keep in mind that your partner may be in a different place than you, so meeting them where they are at will be key. 

Throughout this chaotic time, struggles may arise. Continuing to openly communicate and listen to one another can help you grow together through any difficult time. This is probably a time that you need your partner more than ever, so let them in. Share what you need. Share your fears. Share your excitement. Together you can be stronger and braver, rather than alone. 


Do you need help learning effective communication skills in your relationship?
myTherapyNYC offers couples therapy. Book a free consultation with us to learn more about how couples therapy can help you.


How do you and your partner manage through times of chaos? Join the conversation in the comments below!

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