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© Love Matters | Rita Lino

11 tips for talking to your partner

We’re not born with the talking and listening skills we need to be good at communication, but everyone can learn to become better a communicator.

We can all develop skills to help us understand our loved ones properly and make sure they understand what we really mean. Still, communication is bound to go wrong sometimes, but we can get better at it with practice.

Talking – listening = zero

Communication is a two-way street: listening is just as important as talking. And when you listen, you should really listen so you can really understand what the other person is saying. So, don’t interrupt. Look them in the eyes. And don’t just think about what you want to say next.

Using 'I' statements

If you have a disagreement with your partner, it’s best to express your own opinions and feelings. If you say how you feel about something, or how something the other person did affect you, it’s harder for them to brush it aside. After all, no one can argue about how you’re feeling, because only you know that.

For example, say:

‘I felt really hurt when you went to the cinema without asking me to join you.’

‘It made me sad when I saw you with your arm around that girl/guy at that party.’

There’s no arguing with this. Your partner can’t say, ‘no, you didn’t feel hurt.’

Compare this to saying ‘it was really thoughtless of you to go to the cinema without asking me.’ Then your partner can just say something like ‘no, it wasn’t, I thought you wouldn’t feel like it.’

Don’t bring in what other people think about the situation, or claim you know what your partner is thinking. Like, ‘You know you just put your arm around that girl at the party to make me jealous. And my sister says so too!’ That’s just going to be annoying, and it won’t help your partner to think about your feelings.

Keep your cool

Emotions are healthy and normal. But when you’re feeling emotional, it can be hard to express yourself clearly and listen properly. If you’re feeling furious, for example, it’s probably best to save the conversation for later. Otherwise, you might end up saying something you’ll regret. It can even be a good idea to put an order to your thoughts by writing them down before you bring them up with your partner.

Start with a positive, and then come with the critique

If you’ve decided to tell your partner that you’re unhappy or uncomfortable with something, try to do it in a way that doesn’t upset them. One way is to build on a positive. For example:

‘I love when you pull me close to you, but in the future, can you be a little less rough?’

‘Sex with you is wonderful. But could we try … next time?’

When your partner says or does something you don’t like

We all upset our partner without realising sometimes. So it’s good to let your partner know when you’ve felt upset. Your partner may not realise they’ve done or said something that you don’t like. So don’t start with accusations, yelling, or cursing. Especially if there are other people around. This will make your partner embarrassed and angry.
You’re going wrong if you find yourself immediately shouting things like:

‘You bastard! I can’t believe you did that.’

‘How dare you behave like that!’

Instead, a few minutes after the incident, when you’re alone with your partner, take a few deep breaths, and say something like:

‘I’m not sure you realised this, but I didn’t like …. (then you say the action/ thing they said) because…’

‘I just want to you know that I didn’t appreciate what just happened because…’

You can also point out what they said or did and ask why they did it. For example:

‘Why did you shout at me like that?'

‘Why did you push me out of the way?’

They may ask you what the problem is, so it’s good to be as specific as possible and say how it made you feel.

‘When you belittled me in front of your friends, it really upset me.’

‘When you didn’t call me this week, it made me sad, because I missed you.’

After your partner has listened to what you’ve said, they may agree or disagree. Don't get into a debate about whether the action or statement was intended or not, as this will lead to an argument. Instead explain calmly how that action made you feel (sad, angry, hurt, etc.) and how you would like to do it differently in the future.

‘I hate it when you shout at me as it makes me sad for the whole day.’

‘Don’t push me as it isn’t respectful and it hurts.’

You are trying to create a relationship where neither of you hurt each other. Try to build a solution together. Don’t tell them how to behave, but instead try to talk about what you can both do to avoid this situation in the future. Say what you would like to happen and don’t focus on what you don’t want. For example, discuss what words/names you find offensive, or how often you can reasonably expect to see or call each other.

If one of you gets angry, then perhaps it’s time to come back to the discussion later.

Physical violence is never acceptable, and if this does happen, talking may not be enough to solve your issues.

Remember, the same goes for when you’ve done something to upset your partner. It can be difficult to admit you were wrong. We can all lose our patience or make mistakes without realising it. But what’s important is the actions you take afterwards. Think about how your actions may have affected your partner, listen to what they have to say and pay attention to their feelings. Then discuss how you can both make things better in future.

Expressing emotion

No matter who you are, it can be hard talking about your feelings. However, learning to open up with your partner can be both rewarding and therapeutic.

Here are a few practical tips for discovering and sharing your emotions:

  • Identifying your feelings
    How do we know what we’re feeling and why? This is particularly challenging when we are experiencing new feelings and emotions. However, it is important to take a bit of time to with yourself to understand why you are getting so excited, happy, or upset.

    If your partner does something that upsets you, pause and think about what exactly happened that upset you and why it makes you feel angry/sad/hurt etc. The better you understand the situation and your feelings, the better you are able to communicate it to someone else.

    This is important because if you can’t express what made you upset and why, it's impossible to try to learn from the situation or do things differently in the future.
  • Talking about your feelings with a partner
    Identifying your feelings can be challenging. But sharing these feelings can also feel uncomfortable – which is perfectly normal. But the more you practice sharing your feelings, the easier and more natural it will become. Start by sharing your feelings on a neutral topic, or mention how you feel about a friend or family member. And it’s okay to make it fun!

    ‘I really love my mum – and the way she expresses her love by feeding me great food!’

    This shows your partner that you’re open to sharing your feelings – and that you are also open to them sharing their own feelings.

How to tell your partner when you are happy

It’s often easy to express yourself when you are angry with your partner. But you shouldn’t forget to share when you’re pleased about something they’ve done.
Everyone likes to hear positive things and compliments, so make sure you can express your appreciation for the little things on a day-to-day level.

To make it easier, try to divide the explanation into three parts:

  1. State your emotion.
  2. What was the action that made you have the emotion?
  3. Why did this action make you happy?


‘It made me feel really special when you introduced me as your boyfriend to your parents. It means now we are serious.’

‘I’m really happy today because we were able to spend time together and I got to know more about you.’

Telling your partner you are in love with them

When we fall in love with someone, it can be tricky to express these emotions – in particular, when we’ve never felt this way before, or do not know how the partner will respond.

If you’re developing strong emotions for your partner but are still unsure if you are totally in love, you can still let them know you are heading that way.

‘I just wanted you to know that I think you are great and that I am falling in love with you.’

Or, if you’ve passed this stage and feel that you’ve definitely fallen in love, chose a time when it’s just the two of you. It’s best not to tell them straight after sex, as they might think you’re confusing sex with love. Instead, go for a walk or return to a favourite hang-out – without people or distractions.
Then you try saying something like:

‘I am really enjoying being with you and you make me very happy. You’re such a great person and I‘m in love with you.’

If you are on the receiving end, don’t feel obliged to say ‘I love you’ back – especially if you don’t feel ready. Be honest and say you really like what’s happening, but that you’re not quite at that point yet. Your partner may not like this, but it’s better than lying to them and yourself about how you feel.

Listening to your partner’s feelings

Sharing your feelings is just half the story. As part of a couple, you also have to listen to your partner about their feelings. And this may be particularly hard if you’ve never been in a relationship before.

We often question whether our partner loves us or not. But if we don’t share our feeling we can’t expect them to do any different. So why not make the first move? Words can mean as much as actions, such as making love or giving gifts. Then give your partner space to speak. Listening to your partner is a time to be fully in the moment, so switch off that mobile phone, look them in the eyes and try to patiently understand what they’re telling you.

How to respond to each other's expression of feelings

When your partner chooses to share their in-depth emotions with you, listen and repeat back your partner's feelings in your own words – letting them know you understood what you just heard. If your partner states something has made them sad or angry, ask if they want advice on how to solve the problem. They may say no, and if so respect that and later find a calmer time to discuss the situation

Also, don’t be in a hurry to shut your partner up when they are sharing their emotions or feelings. That may jeopardise the entire effort. Oftentimes, people get very uncomfortable with so many words and feeling emerging that they want to just end it all and hurry the process up. This can be quite insulting to your partner who too is mustering up a lot of effort to share their feelings with you. Make sure that when you decide to listen, you've given them your full attention for as long as they want to share.

Expect to make mistakes

Learn from your mistakes. These should be seen as opportunities to learn more about yourself and your partner. And as you learn more about each other's feelings, you will develop a deeper, more intimate relationship.

By learning the above steps, you’ll hopefully come to feel more emotionally connected with your partner. Besides providing healing and comfort, it can also have an amazing effect on your sexual intimacy.

Did you learn something new?

Sun, 10/02/2016 - 06:07 pm
Hi guy I have dated for one yr I guess is cheating on last I spotted him with a girl who I know upon asking he kept quiet and refused when I told him I had to end the relationship he cried said he has never seen any lady since he met .the other day I called him ad he did NT pick the call Bt later smsed me ad told m alikuwa kwa babake heti ataspend night huko unlike before he used to tell m one week earlier that he is going to c dad help m is he seeing another lady nikupatie shughuli
Hi Shanty, Sorry that you are going through that. Here is an article that will help you with that .
We fail in relationship by tolerating simple mistakes that we can do away with let your guy know that you don't like being lied and be outspoken on this further more you don't need to continue a relationship you're not secure with
Thu, 11/03/2016 - 05:44 am
I got a beautiful lady who works far from me but i love her the more ad i don't wana lose the firmer wife coz she's keeping my kids ad I don't wana then know each other as it may bring about confusion.what cab i do help me Hitwe
Have got a wonderful lady, please I want to know more about respect; on how to respect her more in our relationship. I will be glad if you guys can get back to me.
Hi Sola, Respect can be in form of many things like keep your word, being honest, being faithful or those plus more are ways of showing respect to your partner. You should always listen to what your partner is telling you and communicate effectively to them.
Hello am 24 years married with one baby boy age 1 year..kitambo my wife alikuwa na heshima sana kwangu but familia yake yataka kumpeleka chuo mie sitaki ..kondly advisr me coz am so stress..naona akienda campus akuna marriege tena
Hi Bonface, What makes you feel if she goes to university your marriage will come to an end? Have you talked to her about your concerns, does your partner want to go? Have you considered having join a university that is near where you live so that she will come home every day? Talk about this with your partner and find a way forward together. One that will work for you both.
Hi am Lyn bt i have a guy we have dated 4 a yr n 6mnth nw bt he got mi wen i was 4mnth pregnt n afta delivery he tuk mi 2 b wit him wit my son really we were in dip lov n still we are in lov tho nt dat we were in b4 bt i feel i lov him a lot wit all ma hrt n al da tym we've bin 2getha i hav neva noticed anything called lyk cheating on mi bt i jst think dat he does cheat i just think so n weneva i think abt it i run crazy n hate him even wen he has dan nthng ,i just don't knw y bt its mi who brings all da chaos in da house koz ov ma bad thinking al da tym dat he cheats on mi advise mi plz
Hi Lynet, It sounds as though you have some insecurities that you have to deal with. If you get mad at him because of the thought he might be cheating then you are only putting your relationship in jeopardy. You need to work through your insecurities so that you are able to enjoy your relationship. Try and be positive and always have positive thoughts. Talking it out with someone you trust can also help reduce the anxiety and insecurity. All the best to the two of you.
Tue, 12/20/2016 - 04:42 pm
Hey I HV been to relationship for an year ,I was heartbroken by my boyfriend ,by then I have Neva been committed to any relationship bcoz I fear it can happen again .there is this guy who HV fallen in love with me but as for mi I really block that love by chasing him away .I have tried to be committed and always my mind would trigger mi to the past I.e wat if this guy want to use mi ,pliz help wat can I do???
Hi Lydia it sounds as though you have never been able to move on. You need to understand not everyone is the same. And if you keep blocking love you will never find love. Here's an article that can help you .
I have a boyfriend have dated for 2years now BT its been a week he doesn't talk to me either a call from him BT I don't know what I did wrong
Hi Banks, Have you tried calling him? Remember communication is two way, while he may not call, it may be useful for you to initiate the conversation and find out what could be going on. If this happens often talk about your expectations as far as communication is concerned. Remember communication will help strengthen your relationship.
Hey I got a girl I love her bt the problem I caught her cheating on me bt she asked for forgiveness and now I forgave her bt some times I get a feeling she is just pretending to love me how can I secure our relationship and we be good again becoz I don't want to loss her she is the best I got so help me out
Hi Niro, It can be tough to rebuild a relationship and trust in the relationship after one partner cheats. But you have shown your willingness to work it out by forgiving her. The honors is to your partner to also show her commitment to your relationship. If you have concerns about her commitment just share with her your concerns so that you can both work on getting back to where you were and making your relationship even stronger. We wish you well.
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