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Harmanpreet K. @harmanpree...

Understanding relationships is tough! Two people together, emotionally connected, and trying to navigate adulthood side by side is complicated. It gets even harder if there is a lack of understanding between those two people.

The idea of understanding each other in a relationship seems simple enough on the surface, but it can be challenging to execute well. I hear clients often lament that they don’t feel understood or struggle to understand their partner.

You might be asking yourself, “Why is it important to understand each other?” If we care about one another, enjoy each other’s company, and have a great time, why do we need to work so hard to build understanding relationships, too?

The importance of understanding in relationships goes far beyond the surface and is the key to unlocking a lot of other important parts of a great relationship.

Two reasons why understanding is important in a relationship are connection and trust.

When a partner feels like we are showing up with both love and understanding, they feel truly seen and heard. These are two of the most common things I hear my clients share that they want to feel intimate and connected with their significant other.

How to improve relationship understanding: 12 ways
Improving understanding in a relationship is crucial for building trust, fostering communication, and strengthening the bond between partners.

Here are some ways to enhance understanding in your relationship:

1. Ask for what you want
Communication and understanding in a relationship usually go hand-in-hand.

If you’re feeling misunderstood in your relationship, it’s your job to get what you want. A great place to start is telling your partner, “What I need from you is understanding.” But don’t stop there.

Explain what you mean by “understanding relationships” and what you believe it looks like to behave in an understanding way that can help your partner give you what you want.

Your partner might have a different idea of what it means and looks to be understanding, so by sharing what you’re looking for, you can help ensure you get what you want, and your partner doesn’t have to guess. Win, win!

2. Listen with curiosity instead of judgment
When we disagree or feel attacked, we tend to get defensive and judgmental of what our partner is sharing with us. This can move us towards a fight, misunderstanding our partner, and ultimately challenging our relationship and intimate connection.

If we have understanding relationships, we don’t jump to conclusions as often, and we can get curious about what our partner is sharing instead of being defensive.

So, how to better understand your partner?

Try listening to your partner like they’re telling you a story about someone else (even if it’s about you.) Get curious about how they’re feeling here, why they think the way they do, and what impact this has on them.

Ask powerful, curious questions to encourage your partner to share more about what they’re thinking, feeling, and experiencing so you can deepen your understanding of them.

Resist your urge to react or fight back. You can’t understand if you’re thinking about what you’re going to say next!

Emotional Couple At Home Showing Love Each Other On Coffee Table

3. Practice empathy
Empathy is such an integral skill and is key to understanding in a relationship.

Speaking of ways to improve relationship understanding, Christiana Njoku, a Licensed Professional Counselor and Relationship Coach emphasizes that,

Being an empathetic and emotionally intelligent partner will increase your chances of understanding your significant other.

Empathy allows us to take perspective on what someone is saying, imagine how or why they might be feeling that way without having to feel the emotion ourselves.

For example, if your partner is sharing they felt judged by something you said, but you didn’t intend to judge them, empathy can help you understand where they’re coming from even if you disagree. (You don’t have to agree to practice empathy.)

Try to take perspective and empathize with the idea of feeling judged. By relating to their experience instead of why they’re experiencing it, you can ensure that you are in an understanding relationship.

4. Learn to listen beyond the words that are being said
The words we say are only a portion of our overall communication. Often in communication; we get so lost in the words that we forget to also pay attention to the person saying those words.

In understanding relationships, communication goes beyond the sentences your partner is speaking aloud.

Try to pay attention to all of your partner’s different aspects while they are sharing with you.

What is their tone of voice like? Are they speaking fast or slow? How are they holding themselves? Looking directly at you or the floor? Are they fidgety, breathing quickly, or stammering?

These cues can help you better understand the person’s experience beyond the words they’re using. Words only get us so far in understanding relationships.

5. Try to understand before trying to be understood
When we communicate with a partner, we’re often trying to highlight our points and ensure we are heard and understood.

Each individual’s job, indeed, is to stand up for themselves and share their thoughts and feelings. Understanding in a relationship is a two-way street, and both partners must be heard. Neither one of you can listen to it if you’re too busy talking and focusing on yourself.

If you’re trying to improve understanding in your relationship, see if you can put your partner first and gain understanding before you offer your side.

By making space for each partner to be thoroughly understood, you lay the foundation for deeper connection and trust.

6. Respect differences
Recognize and respect that you and your partner may have different viewpoints, preferences, and ways of approaching situations. Embrace these differences rather than trying to change or dismiss them.

7. Practice compromise
Understand that compromise is often necessary for a relationship. Find solutions that meet both partners’ needs and actively work together to find a middle ground.

8. Develop trust
Wondering how to be more understanding in a long-distance relationship?

According to Christiana Njoku, a Licensed Professional Counselor and Relationship Coach,

Trust is that strong foundation you build in a relationship with your partner, without it, to understand your partner becomes harder.

Building trust is essential for understanding. Be reliable, keep your promises, and be honest with your partner. Trust allows for open and authentic communication.

9. Share experiences
Engage in shared activities and experiences that allow you to connect on a deeper level. This can include hobbies, travel, or even simple daily routines that strengthen your bond and understanding.

10. Show appreciation
Express gratitude and appreciation for your partner’s efforts, thoughts, and perspectives. Acknowledge their contributions to the relationship, and this will foster a positive and understanding atmosphere.

11. Non-verbal communication
Pay attention to non-verbal cues such as body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice. These can provide valuable insights into your partner’s feelings and emotions.

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