Many things can complicate a relationship, whether it be money, sex or infidelity. However, some of these problems can be traced to a single, crucial element of all relationships: communication. Learning how to listen and clearly convey your thoughts and feelings could make certain issues easier to handle and solve.
Listening With Patience
If your partner claims you often misunderstand him, brush up on your listening skills. According to Eboni J. Baugh and Deborah Humphries of the University of Florida, bad listening habits are difficult to break, but you can do so if you notice your own patterns. Jumping to conclusions or thinking of your response before your partner is done talking is detrimental to understanding the issues your partner is addressing. No need to rush. Feeling like you need to have a comeback as quickly as possible turns a simple discussion into a competitive argument. The goal is not to "win" but to come out learning something about yourself and your partner.
Be Clear And Upfront
If you often feel misunderstood in your relationship, don't assume your partner isn't listening. The problem may be in how clearly you express your emotions and ideas. Negative words and combative body language can easily cloud an argument with feelings of hostility. Try using neutral words and statements centered on "I" rather than "you." When you point the issue at the other person, she can easily feel attacked. Calmness, neutrality and openness can make a difficult subject easier to hear.
When And Where
Life can often get in the way of open communication. The key is finding the right time to have serious discussions. Make an appointment if you have to, and rid yourself of all distractions (phones and TVs off, kids in bed). The setting is important as well. Arguments in public can lead to an embarrassing scene so keep it behind closed doors.
To ensure your arguments will come to a solution and will not run in circles, stay on topic. It is tempting to stray from the main issue and bring up past transgressions, but leave them in the past. Don't quibble over dates, times and other small pieces of the story. If it won't help your point get across, move on. Remember that your and your partner's opinions are the only ones that matter. Just because your mom agrees with you, doesn't mean she has anything to do with this discussion. Focus on your own thoughts and feelings.
Now that the discussion is over, let it rest. Compliment each other on how well you were able to communicate. When you and your partner focus on enhancing your communication skills and arguing productively, it is the first step in solving hard issues. Great communication might not fix everything, but you won't have much chance to solve things without it.