I bet you can relate to wanting to know how to fix a relationship or how to keep a healthy relationship.

You’re not alone: Relationship issues are one of the most common topics that bring patients to my office.

Whether you just started dating a few weeks ago or have been married for 20 years, the following relationship skills are the key to creating and maintaining a deep emotional connection with the one you love.

Actively Listen

Make a real effort to focus your attention on what your partner is saying. This means that you aren’t thinking about what you’re going to say next while they’re speaking. You are simply listening.

Try to paraphrase and repeat back what they’re saying so you’re both clear about the issue at hand. And pay attention to your partner’s body language – sometimes actions speak louder than words. When you actively listen, you understand your partner better.

Empathize

Empathy means allowing yourself to connect emotionally with what another person is feeling. This means really trying to put yourself in the other person’s shoes so you can better understand their experience.

Sometimes it’s hard to truly empathize because it puts you in touch with emotions, feelings or memories you might prefer not to focus on. However, when you offer empathy, you’ll feel more deeply connected to your partner.

Validate and Acknowledge

Acknowledging and showing your partner that you think how they feel is important and valid is vital to maintaining a deep connection. Sometimes it can be hard to validate how someone feels—especially if you don’t agree with their take on a situation or if you think they might be overreacting.

If this is the case, remember that validation is a way of showing that you care how your partner feels. Try telling your partner that you’re sorry they’re suffering even if you don’t fully get why they’re suffering.

A simple way to validate someone, especially when you aren’t sure if you really agree with them, is to ask questions about how they feel. This shows how much you care about your partner’s perspective.

You can also try saying things like, “I see how upsetting this is and I’m so sorry.” Or “I hate that you feel so sad about this, what can I do?” Or “I get that this feels really important to you, can you tell me more about what you think?”

Be Vulnerable

We all feel the most connected to people who are vulnerable enough to share their innermost thoughts and feelings with us. And for a relationship to be successful it has to go in both directions and be pretty equal.

Just as you will feel more deeply connected when you listen and acknowledge how your partner is feeling, your partner will also feel more connected to you if you’re sharing your own thoughts and feelings.

This can be difficult and sometimes it feels scary to share to your feelings. But when you have a partner who also values the importance of active listening, empathy and validation, it makes it far easier. Trust me, being vulnerable is truly the key to a meaningful relationship.

Relationships take a lot of work, but if you use these skills I’m confident you’ll improve and deepen your relationship. And if you’d like more relationship tips, you can read this post.

Give these a try and let me know how they worked for you in the comment section below.

Mindfully,
Erin

Photo credit: Bigstock