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Healthy Communication

Healthy communication is the effective exchange of thoughts and feelings between people. It often involves people taking turns speaking and listening. Ideally, when you engage in healthy communication, the people involved are devoted to the exchange. Both people are aware of how they are acting during the conversation.

For instance, if you are the speaker, you might be making eye contact or using your body language to express that you are present and engaged. If you are the listener, you are open to hearing what the speaker is saying and not cutting them off from finishing a sentence or focusing your attention on what you're going to say next.1

The Importance of Healthy Communication

Healthy communication is crucial for sustaining long-term relationships. One study found that effective communication increased relationship satisfaction for couples. Healthy communication can increase intimacy in relationships as well.

The way you and your partner communicate with each other often determines how you resolve conflicts. If you use healthy methods of communicating, you are likely to find common ground even during a disagreement. This can help strengthen your relationship over time.

Of course, the healthiest way of communicating varies based on the situation. If one person becomes unresponsive to a softer communication style when a serious matter needs to be addressed, you may need to be more direct. For everyday relationship issues, on the other hand, an approach centred on affection, forgiveness, and validation can be helpful.

It's important to know how to approach healthy communication and how to adjust your style of communication based on what the situation calls for.

Own What’s Yours

Personal responsibility is a strength, not a weakness. Effective communication involves admitting when you’re wrong. If you both share some responsibility in a conflict (which is usually the case), look for and admit to what’s yours. It diffuses the situation, sets a good example, and shows maturity. It also often inspires the other person to respond in kind, leading you both closer to mutual understanding and a solution.

How to Break the Cycle of Blame in Your Relationship

Use 'I' Messages

Rather than saying things like, "You really messed up here," begin statements with "I." Make your statements about yourself and your feelings, like, "I feel frustrated when this happens." This approach is less accusatory, sparks less defensiveness, and helps the other person understand your point of view rather than feeling attacked.

Look for Compromise

Instead of trying to "win" the argument, look for solutions that meet everybody’s needs—either through compromise or a new creative solution that gives you both what you want most. This focus is much more effective than one person getting what they want at the other’s expense. Healthy communication involves finding a resolution that both sides can be happy with.

Take a Time-Out

Sometimes tempers get heated and it’s just too difficult to continue a discussion without it becoming an argument or a fight. If you feel yourself or your partner starting to get too angry to be constructive, or showing some destructive communication patterns, it’s OK to take a break from the discussion until you both cool off.

This can mean taking a walk and returning to the conversation in half an hour, "sleeping on it" so you can process what you're feeling a little more, or whatever feels like the best fit for the two of you—as long as you do return to the conversation.

Keep at It

While taking a break from the discussion is sometimes a good idea, always come back to it. If you both approach the situation with a constructive attitude, mutual respect, and a willingness to see the other’s point of view or at least find a solution, you can make progress toward the goal of a resolution to the conflict. Unless it’s time to give up on the relationship, don’t give up on communication.

Ask for Help

If one or both of you has trouble staying respectful during conflict, or if you’ve tried resolving conflict with your partner on your own and the situation just doesn’t seem to be improving, you might benefit from a few sessions with a therapist.

Couples counseling or family therapy can provide help with altercations and teach skills to resolve future conflict. If your partner doesn’t want to go, you can still often benefit from going alone. You can also use apps like Happy Couple to improve your relationship and help you understand lost feelings of love.


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