The language of love

Communication must-haves for relationships at every stage

Happy October! Time flies when you’re open about your feelings. Take it from me, married lady of 10 years, devoted girlfriend of seven and a half before that. 😳 My husband and I have seen our relationship change over time, from me politely suggesting a proposal after three years together to harassing him daily for an engagement ring after seven (and of course, so many wonderful moments in between that made it all worthwhile!). Our work is always evolving as we grow and change as individuals, but we have committed to showing up every day and being imperfectly perfect together.

This edition is for all the humans out there trying to make it work with another charming, intelligent, supportive, sometimes weird person by their side. Let’s talk communication. 


Why is communication so important?

Here’s the secret. It’s not just about communicating, it’s about learning to communicate effectively. It’s not just about conversation, it’s about body language, tone, consistency, listening skills, and our own thoughts, habits, and feelings. 

Solid communication is at the core of any successful, satisfying relationship, whether it’s with a partner, child, family member, friend, or colleague. These strategies will help you level up your communication skills.

Less talking, more listening

We all could benefit from some lessons in listening. As a chronic “fixer,” I know how tricky this can be. But the opportunities for growth as a friend or partner are limitless if you learn to root yourself in being present for the other person. It may be that your child, friend, or spouse simply needs a non-judgmental listener to hear them out. According to BetterHelp, active listening is a tool that can improve mutual understanding in any relationship.

Triangular Theory and Love

In the mid-1980s, Robert Sterberg introduced the Triangular Theory, which defines the three main components of love:

  • Intimacy—the closeness of partners and how much they value and understand each other

  • Passion—the romantic feelings and physical attraction

  • Commitment—the cognitive factors of acknowledging and committing to maintaining the relationship

So how does this translate to the disagreement you just had with your spouse about unloading the dishwasher? Sterberg says love and story share a powerful connection and influence the way we think about our most important relationships. Like the stories we tell ourselves about how we look, feel, and think, our minds are conditioned to believe the stories we hear over and over again. If your story revolves around how your partner “never remembers to do the dishes,” your brain becomes trained to expect that and feel negative emotions around it. Change the story, change your mind.

(Curious? Read more about the Triangular Theory here.)

Talking through the discomfort

Ever hear the saying “never go to bed angry?” Well, science agrees with your mom’s marriage advice. Live Science suggests it’s harder for the brain to let go of something negative after sleeping on it. So take a deep breath. Write down your thoughts if needed. And reconnect before going to bed. Your brain (and your heart) will thank you in the morning.

Honor yourself

Even after putting the work into becoming a better communicator, it can still be challenging—especially if your own communication styles and needs are not being addressed. We’ve received quite a few messages in the FamilyMade inbox seeking advice about how to hold your own in the dating world when other parties aren’t respecting your efforts. 

No matter what type of relationship, remember to honor yourself. Honor your needs. Honor your boundaries. Honor your desires. If you’re in a committed relationship, it’s always worth having an open and honest communication with your partner. If you’re in the dating world and something doesn’t feel right, trust your gut. It will not lead you astray.

The Story Around Couples Therapy Is Changing…

It’s not only for couples in crisis. The reality is, therapy and coaching are a way to strengthen even the healthiest of relationships.

That’s where OURS comes in. Designed by experts and inspired by couples therapy, OURS provides modern couples wellness for parents like you who understand the importance of protecting what’s already good.

Every virtual session with OURS is done at your own pace. They make it easy to schedule a time and pair you with an expert to guide you along the way.

Investing in your relationship isn’t just an investment in your happiness, it’s an investment in the happiness of your kids, too.

Find out if OURS is right for you. Get started here and use the promo code FAMILYMADE15 for 15% off.

  • Questions = answers. You know we love a Q&A (obviously!). created a great list of questions to improve communication and continue to get to know each other—even if you’ve been in a relationship for a long time. 

  • A report from the front lines. Our editor Kinsey used these 36 questions that lead to love from the New York Times, and she reports it was extremely effective (and warning: also extremely emotional!). She credits her relationship’s rock-solid emotional foundation to that soul-baring experience. That’s major!

  • Celebrating all the P.A.N.K.s (professional aunt, no kids.) We had to share this Good Housekeeping list of items you’ll only understand if you’re the cool aunt (or uncle.) Cheers to you for always being there!

My favorite communication tool? A big, squeezy, warm hug—also known to cure a multitude of maladies! Find someone you appreciate today and speak their love language. I’ll catch you back here Friday for a Q&A sesh dedicated to the village. You know the one.