By Julie Wales, Relationship Counsellor 
Great relationships make us feel better, boost our self-esteem and enhance our life. 
Yes, they take some effort to maintain, but nobody says it shouldn't also be fun and interesting! It is never too late to improve our relationships with our partners, family or friends. 
I love working with couples and families who want to commit to improving things. At least they want to try to repair and enhance their communication, whilst also exploring their individual self-esteem and what roles they play in life and who they are as a person, in and out of their relationships. 
After all, regret often comes from never trying. 
So here are 6 tips to help improve your communication with your partner... 
1. Couples Cards 
Couples can buy 'Couples Cards' or you can make your own cards, which help with conversation starters for a range of topics that couples would talk about, to help bring fresh discussion. 
2. Use 'I' statements 
These reduce blame and lessen conflict – “I feel”... that, when that happened… - sounds better and less confrontational than “you made me feel..." 
3. Choose your fights! 
Use 'think'... 
T - Is it true? 
H - Is it helpful
I - Is it inspiring
N - Is it necessary
K - Is it kind to me or my partner? 
4. Recognise triggers 
Try and recognise what or who triggers your anger and use time to calm before discussing together. 
If it is usually the same theme that comes up in arguments, bring that to your awareness to decide on a plan. E.g.- if it's in the past, can you let go of it? If not, what could make things move forward? Any compromises to be found? 
5. Harmonise parenting styles 
If you are parents, is it your different parenting styles and boundaries that cause arguments? Are you different in your temperaments? 
Is there any way you could get yourselves on ‘the same page’, which helps you parent more effectively and stops any confusion or acting out with your children or teenagers? 
6. Coloured Feelings cards 
Use of coloured cards to express emotions, e.g.- your colour for Anger may be red, your colour for Calm may be green. 
These coloured cards could be made at home and each person can use them if they feel they need to self-soothe their anger and go away to a quiet space in the house before coming back to discuss when calmer.  
The person can say “I am on red right now, so I need time to think and calm down.” …Or you could say “I’m having a green day today!”, which shows your partner you feel calm. 
I use this system with anybody who likes visual and clear instructions and/or people who may be on the Autistic Spectrum, to help both partners reduce miscommunications. 
For more information, advice or help on helping to improve your communications, please contact Julie on 07412 651 894
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