Auntie Theresa’s PSA: Lock the door and swallow the key; Communication for Couples 1010





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Harlo everyone! It’s your favourite auntie here, Auntie Theresa! I’m here today to discuss some really important things. I’ve been reading #romance confessions posted by local students on the Internet. It makes me sad to know that so many people are experiencing problems in their relationships, so I decided to create this PSA for all you kids out there. I’ve noticed a few common themes in all the confessions that I have read. First, people state the issue currently causing problems in the relationship. Then, they ask the question of “should I bring this issue up to my significant other?” It seems to me that the answer to this question is pretty clear-cut. Yes, of course! You should always talk things out with your partner. I understand that there is a fear that bringing up certain issues might cause arguments and damage the relationship even further. But, what is the alternative? Would never bringing up the issue lead to a happier ending? In my opinion, a better outcome is more likely if the two parties in the relationship talk about anything that is bothering them, and work towards a solution together. But this is easier said than done. And so, I’ve created this handy 5-step guide on communicating with your partner, just for you.

1. Ask your partner good questions. Not questions like the kind your relatives ask you every Chinese New Year, mind you!

What are good questions? Good questions are open-ended. Good questions should give your partner an opportunity to not only answer, but open up and share more about whatever is on their mind. Not everyone is comfortable with opening up completely and having frequent heart-to-heart talks, but by asking them good questions, you can surely encourage them to be more forthcoming with their thoughts. This is the gateway to having meaningful conversations and getting to know each other better, but remember to look out for any non-verbal cues your partner may be giving you. They may not be maintaining eye contact, or something in their tone could seem off. This may indicate that they might not exactly feel comfortable opening up to you in that moment, so do your best to help them feel safe and secure in talking about anything that is bothering them.

2. Be honest, open, and present in the relationship. Make time to take stock of where you and your partner both are in the relationship. I suggest doing this over a good kopi!

This ties into the first step of asking good questions. When you ask your partner something, you want them to be honest with you. But honesty has to come from both ends. Avoiding confrontation may seem to be the easiest and most painless way of dealing with things, but if this strategy stems from dishonesty or burying emotions that should be out in the open, there is little room for the relationship to develop further. To improve on communication, you and your partner should also set aside time that is completely dedicated to each other. During this time, you should give them your full attention. Use the time well to discuss anything—how you feel, any issues that you think your relationship is having, or what you think can be improved in the relationship to make communication better and easier.

3. Know your communication style, and break negative patterns in your communication. Doing this is like finding out what your favourite nutritious food is, then restraining yourself from eating the junk food that you know is obviously bad for you, but you eat it anyway. It’s a hard one.

This is to mean, as the kids say, what is your “love language”? Not everyone communicates in the same way. Your communication style may be mainly verbal—words of affirmation, for example—but your partner’s may be touch or acts of service. If your partner’s communication style greatly differs from yours, you might want to remember it well and affirm your partner in a way that would fit with their love language, and effectively show them how much you care about them. Beyond just knowing what their communication style is and acting in favour of it, you also need to remember that verbal communication is key, and aspects of your voice such as pitch, pace and volume, make a great difference especially if you are in an argument. Keep your pace and volume as even as possible, so don’t talk too fast or too loud. A small disagreement with your partner could turn into a full-blown fight if either one of you starts speaking in a manner that puts blame on the other, so definitely watch out for the words you use as well.

4. Find out what your partner’s needs are, and whether they are being met. Yes, this is a cliché but it is important.

This also goes back to the first step of asking good questions. As humans, we all value certainty, significance, and growth. Your partner may value each of these differently, and it’s important that you know which one they hold most dear. If they value certainty most, they may be non-confrontational and prioritise comfort and security, avoiding taking risks that may result in distress or pain. Be open with them about what makes them most comfortable, and ask them how you can help them feel safe and stable. If they value significance most, they will want to feel unique and important. They may require more support from you or quality time with you, so that you can demonstrate to them how important they are to you. For partners who value growth the most, they will want to be constantly improving themselves, whether this improvement is in the areas of emotional, intellectual, or spiritual. They will also require lots of support, but a slightly different kind of support that you would give to a partner who values significance highly. The kind of support you could provide them would most likely be in the form of showing interest in the areas they are trying to grow in, and you could also try taking on a project of improving yourself in the same area that they are trying to grow in.

5. The last step. Are you ready? Let things go. That’s it.

Okay, that’s not all of it. This sounds really easy, but it might not be. The most opportune time to put this step into action is when you are having disagreements with your partner, which may seem ironic, but trust me on this. If you feel as if your partner is not listening to what you are communicating to them, take a step back and breathe. Don’t dwell on past misunderstandings, instead, take a breath and remember what you value the most and what you treasure about your relationship.

I’ve also noticed a lot of people asking about incompatibility issues. In fact, I came across a really great confession that talked about how to deal with these, and they even used the steps I have listed above! This person said that they worked through incompatibilities with their partner by communicating openly and honestly, and focusing on how they could handle their differences, instead of dwelling on them. I was so happy when I read this confession! Communication is key, and being open with your partner will definitely benefit the relationship. As always, this is easier said than done. But Auntie Theresa here trusts that all you kids have your hearts in the right place.

Take it easy,
Auntie Theresa

Need any help navigating uni life or hearing a different point-of-view? Fret not, for I’m here to help! Send in your queries to theridge.brunchbunch@nussu.org.sg and hear back from the team!