Open and clear communication can be learned.

Communication can be improved. Start by asking these questions:

  • What things cause upsets between you and you partner? Are they because you are not listening to each other?
  • What things cause you disappointment and pain? What things don't you talk about and what stops you talking about them?
  • How would you like your communication with your partner to be different?

If possible, ask your partner to think about these same questions. Then share notes, without criticising each other.

Next try this experiment.

Decide on some ways in which you are going to communicate differently. See what effect this has on your partner, and change the way you communicate based on the response you get.

Remember - it takes two to communicate, and changing your part in the communication will lead to changes. You don't have to wait for your partner to change.

If your partner is willing, you could both try the experiment. Don't let on to each other what aspect of communication you are going to change, but after an agreed period (perhaps a week) sit down and compare notes.

You will find that as you become more aware of how you communicate, you will be able to take more control over what happens between you. Opening up new issues and areas of communication may not be easy at first, but as time passes you will find that it leads to a more fulfilling relationship.

If you find that there are aspects of communication in your relationship that you cannot improve by yourself then consider having a talk with a relationship counsellor.

Counsellors are trained to recognise the patterns in a couple's communication that are causing problems, and to help change those patterns.

Counselling is confidential. Usually it takes only a few meetings to make some worthwhile changes.

Or you could consider doing a course about improving relationships provided by Relationships Australia.

It makes sense to take action early and spend a little time talking to someone about your concerns instead of waiting until things get worse.