The Valentine’s Day Guide to Good Communication

“Communication is key.”

This age-old adage is time-tested to be true and it is vital to the success of any relationship. This applies to more than exclusively romantic relationships, so please read on if you’re rocking that single life. As someone currently knee-deep in wedding planning, (May 2022 can’t come soon enough!), I imagine I can offer some advice on this topic.

Hi, I’m Hannah, and I’m your mom friend. Communication is a topic I’m very passionate about; as a journalism major, I can’t say that’s surprising. My fiancé and I have worked diligently for the past year to develop our communication skills and learn to be open and honest with each other. Let me tell you, it is always a work in progress.

Communication comes more naturally to some (like myself) but not to others (such as my fiancé). It’s is a little easier when we would see each other every day, but being long distance during the semester makes it both more difficult and more important. Here are a few of the biggest reasons to put in the work to improve your communication skills, a little encouragement along the way.

Bad communication can cause unnecessary arguments and fights

Personally, I have a bad habit of getting upset about something and not bringing it up, instead waiting for him to notice I’m upset. Let me be clear, this is a terrible idea. If something has upset you – whether it was something they did or something outside of the relationship — bring it up.

Here’s why: if something they do or say upsets you and you never let them know, they will continue to do the thing. Eventually you’ll either want to leave, fight a lot, or blow up at them over it. All of which could have been avoided if you let them know you weren’t okay with the thing.

Additionally, if one of you is upset about something that happened during the day, that should also be communicated to each other. If it isn’t, you may end up taking your frustration out on each other, or one of you will take the other’s sour attitude personally.

To learn to love each other better

If you truly love them, you’ll want to make them happy. I’m always looking for ways to love him better than I did before, and I think that’s natural. We all give and receive love differently and learning how you both do those can have a huge impact on your relationship.

As we’ve learned in our relationship, it is essential to tell each other about the things that make you feel loved. In turn, it is important to listen intently and make a serious effort to give love as they receive it. This is an ongoing process that changes as time goes on, and it is important to share your preferences and feelings with each other.

To manage expectations and avoid disappointment

Everyone, to some degree, has expectations. The culture we live in and the movies we watch create a lot of relational expectations in us that we may not realize at first. It is important to understand what your expectations are in the relationship and communicate those to the other person.

Understand that your expectations are not always feasible and may not be met but should be shared regardless. Additionally, listen to their expectations and talk about what is and isn’t practical. Together you can manage the impractical ones, and know which expectations can be met.

To plan your future together

This goes hand-in-hand with discussing expectations. Communicating your plans and ideas for the future is also important. If one of you is thinking about marriage and one of you can’t even process the idea of proposing, that’s something that needs to be discussed in-depth.

If you both now have an idea of your future together, you can start discussing things on a more detailed level. Where do you want to live? How many kids do you want, if any? What career aspirations do you have? These are only a few of the things that should be discussed in relationships trying to go the distance.

Copy Desk Chief Hannah Crisp can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @hnhelizabeth