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How to communicate when your partner doesn’t know how


No one is perfect, especially in a relationship. You have your flaws and your partner has theirs. We’ve all heard how key good communication is in a relationship and it’s true. But what on earth are you supposed to do when your partner may not be the best at expressing themselves? Good communication exists in a relationship when both partners are modeling healthy skills. We’ve got some tips to help you and your sugar plum communicate more effectively.

Make sure the timing is right.

There’s nothing more distracting than your partner wanting to have a serious conversation right when you’re in the middle of something that’s attention consuming. That goes for you too; don’t interrupt your partner. If something is really bothering you, give that issue the time and attention it deserves. Set aside a special time when you’re both calm to talk. Emphasis on “when you’re calm.” Trying to have a conversation of this nature when you’re angry is a big no-no. Let’s be realistic. When was the last time you just sat there and let someone yell at you and really digested everything they were saying? People sort of tune out when those things happen. When you communicate, you want to be heard. Make sure the time and place are right. On that note…

Say it to their face!

Technology is wonderful. Serious conversations with your boyfriend or girlfriend over technology are not. Face to face communication provides so many elements that go missing when you try to let your boyfriend know that you’re tired of him leaving his dirty gym clothes everywhere via text. You probably don’t want to find out that he moved your makeup because it was all over his side of the counter this morning through an email. Speaking in person allows you to gauge a person’s body language and hear the intonation in their voice. Communication isn’t just verbal folks. And with that…

Control your countenance, and the rest of your body language.

You may be listening, but you also may be disrespecting your partner by listening with your back to them or rolling your eyes. Displaying negative body language is an easy way to get your partner to clam up and feel as if they can’t talk to you. Relationships are built on trust! Show your partner that you care about what they have to say. Once you’ve mastered all of that…

Be open and honest.

Do it, even if it hurts. Honesty in a relationship builds trust and respect. Sounds like three ingredients to a healthy relationship to us! Do be conscious of how you’re speaking to your partner. If you’ve got something to say that’s going to hurt, try to deliver the message in a way that’s direct but not hitting your partner with word daggers. There’s a difference between being direct and being a jerk. Don’t worry about fault and blame (a solid way to stalemate any argument) and focus on a perspective that is more open. Talk about how you feel with using “I” or “we” statements. Think about the relationship as a whole. Chances are, if something is wrong in the relationship, you’re not the only one affected.

Be patient wise one. 

No one says exactly what they mean exactly the way they mean to say it all of the time. Be patient with your love. Give them the opportunity to reword things to make more sense or to honor the true meaning of what they mean. Your stud muffin may not be an eloquent poet and you would want the same opportunity in return.


Good communication takes time and work. You’ll need to be objective with yourself. You’ll need to think about what you’re doing. Play conversations back to yourself in your head and think about how you all can improve your conversation and talk about it. Once you’ve mastered good skills, model them for your honey cakes. Hopefully they’ll catch on.

How do you communicate effectively in your relationship? 

About the Author

Geralyn Dexter

Geralyn holds a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Florida and a MS in Mental Health Counseling from Nova Southeastern University. She is currently working on a Doctorate in Counseling Psychology. She enjoys reading, yoga and art. Within the next three years, she hopes to complete her doctorate and transition from practicing therapy in a community setting to having her own private practice.