We’ve all been there–unexpected friction, dryness, and chafing, preventing us and our significant other from reaching completion. We can try to push through, hoping that mere effort will win the day. We can give up, hoping that the same problem won’t plague us on our next attempt. Or we can take action by applying a restorative balm and rescuing ourselves from discomfort and failure.
While the above could certainly refer to the physical act of lovemaking, it also applies to the less salacious aspects of a relationship as well. Communication is the non-sexual lubricant that every romantic partnership needs to flourish.
Naturally, not all communication is created equal. Just like sticky drugstore lube is no match for a designer water-based brand, some communication will set your relationship back rather than helping you and your partner to grow and flourish together.
Here are some tips to keep your communication–and your relationship–silky smooth.
Keep Communication Smooth
In our hyper-connected world, sometimes it can be tough to make sure you’re making time for high-quality, in-person communication with your partner. If your communication has dwindled to a few pleasantries over breakfast, an occasional flurry of daytime texts, and a couple of exhausted attempts to chat before bed, it may be time to reconsider your approach. Set aside a special “date night” every week and pledge not to look at your phone—you’ll be surprised how much you still have to talk about! Alternatively, set up a short weekly “check-in” with your partner to make sure you’re communicating about household issues, personal growth and work goals, and see how that impacts the amount of communication you have with each other throughout the day. If time is an issue, look for activities you can do together to maximize your opportunity to chat—exercise, cook a meal, take a class.
Whether you’re discussing pop culture, division of household duties, or finances, it’s always a good idea to be truthful. This establishes a baseline of trust and accountability between partners, and in addition, eliminates potential sources for conflict before they arise. If you and your other half have different communication styles, acknowledge this openly, and figure out ways you can both feel heard, but still comfortable.
Glide into kindness
When you and your partner first started dating, it’s likely that you both let compliments fly fast and furious. However, it’s easy to forget how good it feels to give and receive compliments once the initial rush of a new relationship has worn off and both partners get caught up in the grind of daily life. A simple “hey, handsome” or comment about an attractive outfit can go a long way to injecting some fun back into the relationship, and praise for a job well-done, whether it’s mopping the floor or closing a deal at work, is always a boost.
Keep Language Smooth
What you may think of as a playful joke may come across to your partner as a thoughtless comment or worse, a harsh criticism. Keep an eye out for unexpected reactions and be proactive in asking whether or not you’ve said something to upset your partner. This is a two way street—if you’re on the receiving end of not-so-nice behavior, make sure your partner knows how you feel so you can work toward interactions that make everyone happy.
Soothing the Rough Edges
All couples experience disagreements, arguments, and fights, but the couples who stay together approach these difficult times as opportunities for growth rather than a death knell for the relationship. If emotions are running high, don’t be afraid to ask for a temporary “cease fire” so everyone can calm down and think more rationally about how to solve the problem. Find ways to balance negative feedback with positive and enter into any discussion willing to accept constructive criticism as well as dishing it out. If you can’t get on the same page as your partner on an important issue, consider seeking counseling—sometimes a neutral, third party can ease the way to a resolution.
When in doubt, just remind yourself: the couple that talks together stays together!