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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?

Examples:

‘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?

Comments
my girl friend z always tough wen she toks to me bt very free wiz my litle bro dat she tels him al her secrets..diz brings shit to me nd dnt knw wat to do
LM-Ann
Sat, 03/10/2018 - 12:39 am
Hello Angel, have you and your partner created a conducive environment where open and honest conversations can happens? Perhaps you need to talk about it, express your feelings and also share how you would like your relationship to be.
Abdully
Sat, 03/10/2018 - 08:27 am
I really wanna know how to keep my relationship strong with my love one who stays far to me..I really love her and I want our love stays
Hi Abdully, one of the essentials of keeping a long distance relationship alive is communication. Try and use all the available options to communicate frequently with your partner. Have a look at the following article for more tips;- https://lovematters.co.ke/love-relationships/happy-relationships/long-distance-relationships-dos-and-donts

Hi Bongo, Communication is essential for any relationship and especially when you are in a long distance relationship. A good place to start is to find topics or things to talk about that you both enjoy and as you get to know each other better and become free with each other, your communication will be made easier. Check out this article;- https://lovematters.co.ke/love-relationships/happy-relationships/long-distance-relationships-dos-and-donts

Hey Basser, You really just have to be brave and let her know how you feel toward her. If you are not confident enough to do this face to face, you can consider texting or talking on the phone. You can also have a mutual friend introduce you then pick it up from there. All the best. Check out this article;- https://lovematters.co.ke/love-relationships/meeting-someone/how-to-date

Have been in a relationship for one year with a guy bt the guy is married with a son ....he claims that he will marry both of us but I dont trust this .he claims to be busy while I know he is not ..when he goes to the other wife he doesn't talk to me ....when he is with me he rarely talks ...I have found him cheating twice with other girls apart from the wife but anakataanga...I dont feel like I love this guy anymore and am wondering how I will break the news that I dont love him anymore and more so have already fallen in love with another guy but yet to accept him

Hi Ann, the only way to do this is to find a good time and then be honest about how you currently feel. Choose a good place preferably a neutral place. The truth is, he may not take it well and it is important that you are prepared for this. Check out this article for more tips;- https://lovematters.co.ke/love-relationships/breaking-up/how-to-break-up

Hey Sophie, if you do love someone, the next thing to do is to is to find a way to share your feelings with them especially if you think they feel the same way. You however need to open to the fact that they may not feel the same as you do and that you may have misinterpreted their actions toward you. If you are not confident enough to talk with them face to face, you could consider texting or calling. We wish you well.  Check out this articles for more tips;- 

https://lovematters.co.ke/love-relationships/meeting-someone/is-it-love

https://lovematters.co.ke/love-relationships/meeting-someone/how-to-date

Hi?,I'm in love with my bozz,n he keepz vizitin at my place n each tyme he cmeZ huwa ananizhik zhika yenye n criaz mpaka tunazhitukia tumetoa nguo bt each tyme tukikarimbia kuhave zex he keepz talling me iz not the right tyme coZ were not zave,each tyme I call him nimzhow nataka kumwona hukuja,BT I don't kno if he feel the zame CME haja..ii niambia,plZ advice me

Hi Jane, ni vizuri umuulize yeye anafeel aje kukuhusu ndio aweze kukuambia kama anafeel the same. Bila kumuuliza hauwezi jua na action zake zinaweza kumaanisha kitu tofauti. Tafuta time poa ndio muongee kuhusu relationship yenu ndio ujue anafeel aje, wewe pia umwambie unafeel aje alafu mpange juu ya siku za mbele pamoja. All the best. 

Hi Varsity, have you talked with your partner about this? Spending quality time is an important part of any relationship. Partners get to know each better and grow their relationship by spending quality time together. Find a good time and talk with your partner about the need for spending time together without which partners draw apart. Have a look at the following article;- https://lovemattersafrica.com/love-relationships/relationship-problems/jealousy-and-other-problems

Hi Eric, have you asked her why she is always angry with you when you text? This is a good place to start, find a good time and talk with your partner to get to know why they are always angry with you and then then together find a solution for this. Open and honest communication will go along way toward strengthening and making your relationship better. Have a look at the following article;- https://lovemattersafrica.com/love-relationships/happy-relationships/tips-for-talking-to-your-partner

Anonymous
Fri, 11/09/2018 - 04:17 pm
My partner and I cant talk about anything it is always his way or no other way. How can I get him to be understanding and to listen more to my opinion on different stuff...

Hi there, relationships are about respect, understanding and compromise. Partners, must be willing to listen to each other and also compromise for each other. In the absence of these, it maybe difficult to have a fulfilling relationship. Find a good time and share with your partner how this makes you feel and how it affects your relationship with him, perhaps he will be more willing to listen to you. Check out the following article for more tips in communication;- https://lovemattersafrica.com/love-relationships/happy-relationships/tips-for-talking-to-your-partner

Love Matters
Mon, 04/15/2019 - 08:14 pm

In reply to by Trezer Odhiambo

Hey Trezer, feel free to as any question on Love, Sex and Relationship and we shall be more than glad to respond to you.

Aminat
Fri, 05/03/2019 - 04:31 pm
Hi guys, I met this guy on a social media 2 months ago,we are not in the same place though, we are far away from each other. Being a good friend to each other and also ask for my digits which I did, he always calls time to time.... But as time goes on, we felt 4 each other, and it has never happened to me before ,I mean falling in love with a person on a social media, later on, he asked me out which I said YES... We get to know ourselves more better and communicates well.... But guys things has changed and am getting tired of this but keep saying he loves me

Hello Aminat, what has changed and what are you tiered of? It is important to think about what you are looking for in a relationship and also share this with your partner as well as have them share with you what their expectations are in the relationship. This will help you decide on how to proceed. Find a good time and talk with your partner about the issues and concerns you have, to find a solution together. Have a look at the following article for more information;- https://lovemattersafrica.com/love-relationships/relationship-problems/jealousy-and-other-problems

I love my boyfriend that I can give my life for him I made some many sacrifice for him but each time he talks to me he talk to me like i am no body like I am nothing to him

Hi Joy, so sorry about this. Have you shared with him what your expectations are in the relationship? Communication is essential for any relationship to work. It is important that you talk with your partner about your expectations of him are and also have him share with you what his expectations are. This way, you will both agree on how to proceed or not. It is also important that you foster open and honest communication since this is essential toward addressing any problems in the relationship;- https://lovemattersafrica.com/love-relationships/relationship-problems/jealousy-and-other-problems

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