Sadie Holloway is a workshop facilitator who teaches interpersonal communication skills to help people strengthen their relationships.
Does being affectionate when talking with your spouse mean you must be hugging and kissing the whole time? Of course not, that's simply not practical! However there are ways to communicate with your spouse in more loving ways that will foster a closer, more intimate connection with the one you love.
Affection is responsible for nine-tenths of whatever solid and durable happiness there is in our lives.
— C. S. Lewis
The first thing to know about improving verbal and non-verbal communication with your partner is that change begins with you! How empowering is that? Instead of wasting all your energy trying to change the way he communicates with you, focus your attention on how you are communicating with him.
Once you are open to accepting that positive changes in the way you and your spouse communicate begins with you, you’re on your way to having a happier, healthier relationship. But how do you improve the way you communicate your thoughts, feelings, and deepest emotions to your partner?
All conversations have a place and time. One of the best ways to be more loving when you communicate with your spouse is to be more mindful of when and where to talk about certain topics. Trying to discuss stressful topics when you're tired probably won't contribute to a meaningful, honest and open-minded discussion. Talking about tough topics when you are cranky is never fun, so treat your spouse with the same degree of sensitivity. Try to remind yourself to take a step back and ask yourself if you have the energy to give this conversation my full attention. And how about your spouse? Is he alert and well-rested too?
Being more mindful of the time and place you choose to have a talk doesn’t mean that you're necessarily avoiding a difficult conversation, rather you are having faith that the right time to talk will happen, and that if you can listen to your body and take care of your physical needs, you can improve the way you communicate with your partner. It's much easier to be loving and affectionate in the way you talk with one another when you're both well-rested, or at least in tune with your bodies' needs.
Learn to Recognize Signs Your Partner Needs or Wants Your Attention
Whether consciously or unconsciously, we all have ways of trying to tell the person we love that we want their attention. And being able to recognize the signs that your partner wants your attention can build intimacy and emotional awareness. One of the things my partner does to tell me he wants my attention is to read headlines out of the newspaper and share articles that he finds interesting. Telling me a silly joke, showing me a funny cartoon from his favorite humor website or sitting down next to me with his laptop and playing a cat video for me are some of the ways he uses to show me that he wants some playful attention. Your partner may have his own way to seek out your attention, so be attentive and notice your partner's subtle way of saying, "I love you!"
Communicate Silently Through Gentle Touches
If you want to elevate the way you and your partner communicate, touch each other often, whether you're sitting on the couch watching TV or enjoying a comfortable silence over dinner. Sneaking touches in here and there when no one is looking is fun, too.
Some people find that communicating through loving acts of physical affection can help make it easier to talk about some of the more difficult topics that come up in a relationship. Here’s an example: if you and your partner are sitting across from each other at either ends of the couch talking about a stressful issue (i.e.; money), hugging may not be practical, especially when the other person is talking. Eye contact during tough conversations is sometimes more meaningful than physical closeness. So instead of hugging, try stretching your legs and touching toes gently. This is a sweet, simple way to show that you are fully present and in the moment with your partner, even as you work your way through a difficult issue.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2017 Sadie Holloway
Glenn Stok from Long Island, NY on January 13, 2019:
Direct and to the point Sadie. You gave useful ideas to keep in mind. I especially like the method of showing presence when discussing difficult subjects by stretching your legs and touching toes gently. That helps to lighten the mood and could help keep both partners engaged in a positive conversation.
Robert E Smith from Rochester, New York on March 03, 2017:
Those are three important areas to improve the connection when communicating. I find myself doing all three if I stop and think about it. I made up my mind a long time ago that if my wife is addressing me and I am watching TV I have to turn off the television and turn to face her. I do this for her but also for me for I am easily distracted. Also, it shows her that she is more important than anything I am doing at the time. I have found as the years go by we are communicating by touch more and more. A reassuring hand on a shoulder, a touch of her hand, a smile all make our relationship's foundation stronger. My wife and I have a code when she needs attention. She will usually say, "I have a job for you to do." I loved this article, short and profound. Thank you. Bob.
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on March 03, 2017:
Very good suggestions. Not married now, but what I appreciate most is attention whether it is given in silence or in words. Good tips!