This wonderful spring month of May reminds me of dancing around a Maypole, the colourful ribbons, the twirling, the skipping, the swishing of skirts, but, most of all, dancing with my school crush, whom I’d never dared to even speak with.
The excitement of moving around him was intoxicating. And, after many clumsy manoeuvres, the zenith was when we learnt each other’s movements so well, we actually danced brilliantly, or at least that’s what I recall!
When partners are attuned to each other’s movements and respond accordingly, couples can navigate even the most complex of conversations, with ease and grace like moving together in a dance. And, just as a dance requires coordination, communication between partners also requires a certain level of coordination and mutual understanding to be effective.
“Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along.” Rumi
But as any dancer knows, there are bound to be missteps along the way as we are not always in sync. Brilliant communication, too, is not always easy, and couples may find themselves tripping over each other’s words or stumbling through hard conversations.
Like a skilled dancer can recover from a misstep, couples who are committed to brilliant communication can learn from their mistakes and continue to move forward together.
“Almost everything will work if you unplug it for a few minutes…including you.” Anne Lamott
Research has consistently shown that effective communication is a key predictor of relationship satisfaction and stability. In one study of over 100 couples, researchers found that couples who engaged in constructive conflict resolution patterns, such as active listening, compromise, and problem-solving reported higher levels of satisfaction and lower levels of divorce.
At the same time, it’s important to remember that brilliant communication is not just about navigating the hard conversations – it’s also about listening to one another. By listening to our partners with an open heart and mind, we can deepen our understanding of one another and foster a stronger sense of intimacy.
“You don’t love someone because they’re perfect, you love them in spite of the fact that they’re not.” Jodi Picoult
When the going gets tough in relationships, we can fall into the trap of taking it too seriously and forget that we need to have fun! Incorporating humour and playfulness into communication can be an important aspect of maintaining relationship health, too.
Comedian Jerry Seinfeld once quipped, “A relationship is like a shark. It has to constantly move forward, or it dies.” Just as a shark must keep swimming to survive, relationships must also keep evolving and growing.
Humour in conversations can help to keep things light and prevent couples from getting bogged down in negative patterns. Staying on the lighter side, brilliant communication in a couple relationship is also about expressing love and affection, sharing dreams and goals, and simply enjoying each other’s company.
Another key ingredient to brilliant communication is openness and vulnerability. This means being willing to share your innermost thoughts and feelings, even if they are difficult or uncomfortable.
When caught off guard, we might see vulnerability as a weakness, but we know it is one of the most courageous and powerful acts we can engage in. When both partners are willing to be vulnerable with one another, we can feel a sense of safety, deep intimacy and trust that can strengthen our relationship immeasurably.
“The most powerful words you can say to someone are ‘me too’. These words will heal and connect us more than anything else.” Brene Brown
Most of us probably instinctively and intuitively know all the above pointers to brilliant communication in a relationship, but we are not always mindful of them. And, importantly, not all of us know the steps we must learn to have a great dance with our partner. Here are the how-to’s:
- Active listening. Mirroring can be an incredibly powerful way of fostering active listening and validating emotions and can help to avoid misunderstandings and defensiveness. This involves one partner stating their thoughts or feelings, and the other partner reflecting back what they heard. For example, if one partner says, “I’m feeling really frustrated about work right now”, the other partner might respond by saying, “It sounds like work has been really tough for you lately.” Immediately, we feel heard and validated. And the conversation is likely to continue.
- Giving empathy. Using the example above, we might show empathy by also wondering what else our partner might be feeling. For example, the listener might say, “I can see that work might be getting you down”. Immediately, when we feel empathy, we feel understood. Feeling understood can get us out of the negative frame of mind we fell into and may lead to gaining the strength to find a solution to the issue.
- Another technique that can be helpful is the use of “I” statements. This can help to shift the focus away from blame and towards finding solutions together. For example, if I felt my partner wasn’t listening to me, a blaming reaction might be, “you never listen to me!”. This is likely to lead to a defensive response. Using an “I” statement, I might instead say, “I feel sad when you don’t respond”. This response is more likely to elicit empathy and lead to seeking a way forward together.
- And so it goes – we need to set aside regular time to build brilliant communication through date nights or even dance lessons!
In conclusion, effective couple dialogue or brilliant communication is like a dance that requires coordination, flexibility, and a willingness to take risks. By incorporating humour, playfulness, and active listening into communication, we can deepen our connection and build a stronger foundation with our partner.
With brilliant communication as our guide, we can experience deeper love and build a lasting partnership that endures over time.
“Love recognises no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” Maya Angelou
Farah Naz is a UK trained Psychotherapist of more than 30 years, and is a Clinical Hypnotherapist, with a special interest in neuroscience. She has worked with thousands of people globally for a range of issues. Farah has trained national organisations, corporate companies, doctors, teachers and health workers on psychological-related issues. Currently, she has an online international practice and a private practice in the Algarve.
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