Healthy communication leads to a strong relationship in addition to physical and mental health benefits for both partners. It takes hard work and dedication from both partners to make healthy communication the norm in your partnership. Even the most well-meaning and loving people have to learn how to re-wire their automatic communication patterns so that it increases the overall health of the relationship.
Here are some of the hallmark signs of a couple who engages in healthy communication:
Accept that arguments will happen. Arguments cannot be avoided in any partnership and couples with healthy communication patterns have accepted this. When couples stop avoiding arguments, they become more open to finding solutions and learn from past conversations on how to make future ones more successful. With this acceptance, couples are less likely to repeat the same unhealthy communication patterns and are able to stay on the same team regardless of how heated the disagreement becomes.
Metacommunicate. Learning how to communicate properly is like learning any new skill. Part of the learning process includes figuring out what went well and what was not as successful and that is true for communication with a partner. Healthy communicators will take time after a fight to review how the conversation went, what lessons they each can learn, and why the conversation took the path that it did. these invaluable lessons help these couples from repeating the same mistakes next time.
Go slow. Couples who engage in healthy communication are like astute drivers who know when to put on the brakes and slow the pace down. They are able to know when it is not worth it to engage in the argument but instead control the direction it goes in so that it does not blow up into a fight that neither of them wants to have. This requires knowing that being right is not a goal in a healthy relationship.
Reach out and repair. Partners who are invested in healthy communication understand the importance of repairing the damage that comes with difficult arguments. They know what actions, such as making a joke or reaching out for a hug, are necessary to help their partner recover from a fight and engage in them regularly when the heat of the argument is cooling down.
Assume positive. Healthy communicators assume the positive about their partners and what they say. If a misstep was made during an argument, they are more likely to assume that their partner did not say it out of malice or intent to harm but instead because of the heat of the moment. They are also more likely to allow their partner to have another chance to say what they actually meant, avoiding standoff that could turn into an ugly fight.
Understand that slip-ups happen. Couples who practice healthy communication are forgiving and realistic. They understand that each of them will say things during the course of their relationship that they will regret and that is a normal part of every partnership. This allows each partner to show more compassion toward their each other and treat each other how they themselves wish to be treated. Neither of them expect perfection but instead expect respect and an awareness of when they have stepped over the line.
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