When communicating with your partner, try to avoid blame, criticism, and judgement. Instead, focus on the good!

Sure, we communicate with our partners, but the quality (which really matters) is not always a concern. Productive, supportive, positive communication is vital to relationship health. Give praise to your partner and share affirmations which help increase the overall quality of communication.

There are two skills that will help shape a positive environment for communication in your relationship: assertiveness and active listening. To be assertive, it’s important to take responsibility for your thoughts and feelings by using “I” statements instead of starting with “you.” The process of active listening lets the speaker know if their message was accurately received. It’s imperative for the listener to acknowledge the content and the feelings of the speaker.

  • Assertiveness is expressing your feelings and asking for what you want in the relationship.
  • Active listening is listening attentively without interrupting and restating what was heard.


  1. Consider attention—How do you give your full attention when your partner is speaking?
    What distractions make it difficult to concentrate on your partner? How do
    you know you have your partner’s full attention when you are speaking?
  2. When is it difficult to communicate with your partner? What makes it easy to communicate with your partner? How is the subject matter an indicator of difficulty or ease? How do other environmental factors (time of day, etc.) play a role?
  3. What are other ways you communicate with your partner outside of verbal interactions? What non-verbal ways do you and your partner communicate? Brainstorm new ways to communicate with one another (a note left by their keys, a wink across the room, a kind text message, etc.).
  4. Think about what is going on in your mind when your partner is speaking. How do you show you are truly processing the message they are sending versus already formulating a response?
  5. What are your partner’s needs? What are your needs? How do you advocate for your needs? How can asking about their needs and advocating for your own help our relationship?

Through constant focus on being assertiveness, we are able to express our feelings and asking for what we want in our relationship. Additionally using active listening techniques, we are able to listen more effectively and attentively without interrupting. 

Source: PREPARE/ENRICH Discussion Guide for Couples. Buy a copy today, only $20.

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