Communication is the keystone of every interpersonal relationship, the foundation of all human interactions and connections. Even from an early age, children learn how to communicate their needs and desires from their parents. Effective communication, however, can be difficult to master without the proper help or techniques, which is why therapists have long recommended communication exercises for couples.
Over time, because of a busy life and accumulating fatigue and stress, couples start having trouble discussing important issues, such as their children, finance or daily household matters. These communication problems lead to frustration, irritation and they tend to overplay any future argument and eventually, to diminish the affection and closeness between partners.
On the other hand, couples who can communicate freely and in an efficient way enjoy happy, successful relationships. By understanding the importance of healthy, open communication, partners strengthen their bond and experience true intimacy. The need for functional and meaningful means of connection is even more intense in LDRs, where intimacy can be achieved only through solid, competent long distance communication systems.
Challenging as it may be, taking the time and effort to discover the best ways to communicate with your partner is the only path to building a worthwhile, lasting relationship. There will definitely be plenty of topics to dispute over and none can be resolved in a satisfactory manner without effective communication, especially in long distance matches.
You may find below 15 communication exercises for couples that are a great start for developing productive techniques in all three areas, verbal, nonverbal, and written.
In the heat of an argument, people may say things they later regret. You should avoid that by all means. Therapists say that entering a confrontation feeling too emotional results in finding it difficult to communicate properly or to find solutions.
Take a break before initiating a serious discussion. Go for a short walk, for 10-15 minutes, listen to your favorite song(s) or give relaxation exercises a shot. Calm your body so that you can keep an open mind. Thus, you will be able to control your reactions and to convey the right message.
Being able to learn new things about your partner is a fun and fast approach to a stronger connection, particularly in long distance relationships. Ice breaking exercises are easy to practice and helpful for couples who want to get to know each other better.
Even when you believe there is nothing your significant other might surprise you with, try asking ice breaker questions. You can inquire, for example, about a pleasant childhood memory, a weird feature or trait you haven’t yet uncovered or the comfort food of their choice.
Employ this exercise as often as you need to feel closer to the person you love from a distance, as a powerful, profound bond is one of the keys to a wholesome LDR.
Arguments usually start with one person blaming the other and that is in no way productive. Therapists recommend this exercise to deal with possible disputes:
Some people are better than others at expressing their needs, concerns or discontent. Be aware of your partner’s gestures, tone of voice or body language. It could help you read between the lines and get a better grasp at what they might be dealing with. Thus, you are a step closer to resolving your issues or you could avoid them altogether.
Nonverbal communication is a puzzle for everybody, let alone for people who are rarely in the same room. To prevent misconceptions, put this technique to a test. Next time your partner shares something with you, focus on their body language and see if you can get the right message. Confirm with your partner that you understand the situation correctly, don’t just assume. Ask them to clarify when you consider it necessary.
This simple communication exercise is, in fact, a Q & A session in which couples need to provide honest answers, no matter the nature of the questions. The topic of the questions can range from trivial, like celebrity crush or favorite vacation destination to great significance, such as major life goals or the definition of happiness.
The purpose of the Truth Game is to encourage partners to open up and share their deepest desires and highest aspirations. Revealing intimate details can create and support a reliable communication pattern and, as a result, a meaningful connection.
Take turns recounting an important event from the past. You may choose a story that you fondly remember or, on the contrary, something traumatic, which made a deep impression on you. Offer as many details as you can recall, explaining why the story is still relevant to you and how that particular situation made you feel at that moment.
The person who listens must be able to respond to several key questions about their partner, amongst which:
This exercise helps both participants focus on communicating feelings, rather than facts and on listening with their heart, rather than their mind. It does wonders to a couple’s emotional attachment.
Putting yourself in your partner’s stead is a real proof of the empathy you are capable of. For a good relationship dynamic, mates need to acknowledge and respect each other’s emotions. In order to do that, pick a time frame for this exercise. During that time, you will reverse your roles in communication. Each of you will try to say what the other usually says in your conversations.
Performed correctly, this activity will give you a better perspective of your beloved’s response to certain circumstances and it will therefore improve your communication flow.
Everybody likes to feel appreciated for who they are and what they do for the people around them. Take the time to find three things your partner is doing each week that you appreciate and tell them. Exchanging positive feedback creates a safe environment that couples could build on.
One of the simplest communication exercises for couples, the Miracle Question helps partners envision a future for themselves and for their relationship. Basically, they must say how a miracle would change their lives for the better. All answers are useful, even the improbable ones. This method makes couples acknowledge what they need in order to be happy together.
Another quick and fun exercise, “Five Things” is ideal for LDRs, as it can be carried out in any setting, including over video calls. All you need to do is think of a theme and then name five things that match that specific theme and also apply to your loved one. Productive topics such as “what I appreciate about you,” or “ I really like it when you do….” are encouraged. The aim is to remind yourselves why you love each other.
This method belongs to the written communication exercises for couples and it has two main advantages. First, writing allows people to put ideas in order and to choose words carefully, so that they can express concerns and distress in a considerate manner, without hurting the other person. Second, it helps partners track their progress and motivates future endeavours.
It is a very useful tool for the complex LDRs, where couples have to schedule their talks and they don’t always have the time to discuss what is on their mind. It’s easier for remote partners to write down their concerns and later on, share them. For best results, this entire process should be done on a regular basis.
The 5 love languages, developed by Dr. Gary Chapman in the early 90’s, define the way couples express and experience love. They include words of affirmation, actions of service, receiving gifts, quality time and physical touch.
Using at least three love languages, you both come up with three or more suggestions of how to spend time together. This exercise will give you a better sense of each other’s preferred love language and thus, the possibility to show your appreciation and love in the way your partner likes to receive it.