Why Healthy Communication Is The Foundation Of Good Relationships, According To Experts
To say that communication is the foundation of a healthy relationship is honestly a cliché at this point. You’ve no doubt heard it a hundred times, from everyone you know. But sometimes, when you hear something so many times, you forget to stop and think about what it really means. For instance, you know it's true, but do you ever ask yourself why healthy communication is the foundation of good relationships? When you start to break down that question, the answer becomes real clear, real quick.
In order to dig a little deeper, I reached out to Pricilla Martinez, a life coach at Blush Online Life Coaching, who told Elite Daily that "communication is key to any relationship in order to ensure both partners are moving in the same direction in terms of commitment, but more importantly to spare one another unnecessary heartache." Well, sure, that makes sense, but what exactly does it mean, like, in practical terms? How does open, honest, and sometimes fearless communication actually affect different aspects of your relationships? Because only by drilling down a little deeper, can we break out of the cliché and really understand why communication matters so much. Here's what Martinez had to say.
It’s how you and your partner stay on the same page.
Open, honest dialogue is essential to any relationship, but that’s especially true for one that's going to be long-term, Martinez says. “Obviously we’re constantly evolving with changing interests and desires," she explains. "If you don’t communicate those changes with your partner, it’s unfair to hold them accountable for not meeting your needs or expectations.”
She also warns that over time, as we evolve, our priorities and needs change, and sometimes that has a serious impact on the relationship. “You also want to keep the lines of communication open in case the changes are deal breakers,” says Martinez. “For example, if both parties went into a relationship not wanting children and one person changes their mind.” This may seem really scary and your instinct may be to keep it a secret, since you have cause to believe it may negatively impact the relationship. But when you feel a change that important happening within you, you owe it to your partner more than ever to be open and honest. Otherwise, those feelings will fester and turn into resentment, which can be lethal to a relationship.
In other words, “communication on your feelings and needs as the relationship progresses will help keep both partners happy,” Martinez explains.
It prevents conflict from becoming toxic.
I am definitely guilty of holding in feelings and letting them simmer until they become a toxic stew. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, the pot boils over and I'm blowing up at someone. (And quite possibly blowing up the relationship.) But that didn’t have to happen if I had just used my words back in the beginning, before things got ugly.
Martinez agrees. “Open lines of communication are important in order to clear up misunderstandings or avoid them in the first place,” she says. “Conflict is bound to happen with friends, family, and romantic relationships. It can be so painful to feel misunderstood or unheard by someone you love, but that can be unavoidable.”
So, while the friction may be inevitable, how you deal with it and diffuse the situation all comes down to your communication skills. As Martinez explains, it “helps people be proactive about making sure they are understood, but it also help repair relationships if things have gotten out of hand. The idea is to be as clear as possible to avoid having to do damage control later.”
It helps move the relationship forward.
Healthy communication isn't just how you head off or deal with problems in your relationship. It really is the foundation your entire relationship is built on, how you keep it moving forward, and how you develop a stronger commitment. As Martinez explains, “Ideally a relationship will progress from one stage to another as smoothly as possible. From dating to moving in together to marriage,” adding, “you have to keep things clear in order to create the sense of security in your partner to make those moves together.”
But what happens if you don’t know how to communicate healthily? Well, Martinez warns that your relationship may become stagnant, or worse, “if a relationship does move forward it may not work because a strong foundation hasn’t been laid.”
How to improve your communication.
So, now that you have a better idea of why communication really does matter, what do you do if the communication between you and your partner is, shall we say, a little iffy? Well, Martinez offers some great, practical advice.
“I suggest spending some time together in a neutral space without distractions," she says. "Having these conversations at home opens you up to distractions, or ways to avoid them.” The hard part comes after you've found neutral ground. Martinez suggests you and your partner “agree to be open, honest, and to not defend yourself. If someone feels there will be consequences for what they say, they will not be honest with you or will know not to be honest the next time.” I know, easier said than done, but Martinez explains that while you may hear things you don't want to hear, or that really hurt, ultimately “knowing the truth will help you decide if you want to move forward with your partner. If you do want to move forward, then you will have a real place to start from and an actual issue to work with. Anything less than the truth will deviate from what is necessary to repair the relationship.”
Hey, this is why another very common cliché about relationships is that they're "hard work." People say it because it's true. But when it comes to having good, healthy communication, it's easier if you start your relationship with it from the get-go. Be fearless, open, and honest, and expect the same in return.
However, if you're already in a relationship and need to step up your communication game, well, it may feel scary and hard at first. But like anything else, the more you do it, the more natural and easy it will become. And when you have that kind of radically honest dialogue with someone you love, the pay off of connection and intimacy it creates is worth every awkward moment it took to get there. You got this.
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