Get talking - communication in relationships

Positive approaches to communication and understanding the different ways you and your partner communicate can help to strengthen your relationship. When there is disagreement, learn how talking about boundaries and coming up with relationship agreements may help.

 

Components of talking communication

Negotiation

Any healthy relationship needs a good process for negotiation. Effective negotiation can help both people in a couple feel equally part of everything, from conflict resolution to decision making. Negotiation, when done well, will maintain the esteem of both partners and protect their interests. Both partners will get at least some of what they want.

You can kick-start a good negotiation by following the three sections below, which are equally applied to each partner.

Partner 1: Communicates his or her point of view and needs without interruption

Partner 2: Summarises back to partner 1 what was said

Partner 1: Makes any corrections

Then repeat the process with the roles reversed.

Once a decision has been agreed, focus on what you have gained and not what you have given up. Each partner is likely to give a little to end up somewhere in the middle.

 

Boundaries

Part of the negotiations might be exploring each other’s personal boundaries and determining the boundaries for the relationship. For instance, each partner might disclose their ‘deal breakers’ – the ‘no-go zones’ individuals have regarding relationships. These might include anything from a partner smoking to cheating or religion. Each partner determines where these non-negotiables are for them.

Once the deal breakers have been discussed and accepted, the next step is to determine the boundaries placed on the relationship. These boundaries need to be specific, agreed upon by both partners, and applied to each partner equally. Examples might be what you decide to share on social media, how much alone time you need, or how often you will communicate.

 

Agreements

Using negotiation skills to discuss boundaries and rules in a relationship can lead to a relationship agreement. This may sound unromantic, but clear rules and boundaries can be a foundation for a healthy and happy relationship for some people. An agreement doesn’t have to be in writing. It can be a clear and direct verbal agreement that both partners agree to and understand.

Topics that typically come up in relationship agreements include finances, living arrangements, relationship status, monogamy, safe sex, resolving arguments, or communication. Setting aside some time, particularly in a new relationship, to work out a relationship agreement may be an effective way to protect your relationship from typical pitfalls.

 

MensLine Australia has professional counsellors available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, providing information and support for all relationship issues.

Call us on 1300 78 99 78 or access online counselling.