In a love relationship or marriage there are always commitments. You might make a commitment to be monogamous with your partner. Or you might make a commitment to love him or her “through sickness and in health.” Even if you’ve not sworn in front of a religious leader or judge, you’ve probably made agreements and promises to your love that you feel deeply about.

But what commitments have you and your partner made about how you communicate—especially when the going gets tough? Like many, you might take it for granted that you and your mate will communicate with one another in a way that feels good to both of you. What would a communication commitment look like that would help you and your love move closer together in the face of any conflict?

Cheryl and Paul were thinking of getting married. They’ve dated for 3 years now and both feel like it’s time to take their relationship to the next stage. As excited as Cheryl is about the possibility of marrying Paul, she is also quite nervous. Both she and Paul have quick tempers and when a disagreement arises, it is often a big one that usually ends when one of them walks out. The last time Paul stayed at a friend’s house the entire night just cooling off. Neither of them enjoys these yell-fests over sometimes very insignificant issues, but neither of them knows how to do it differently.

What are your communication commitments?
Before taking another step in their relationship, we’d suggest to Cheryl and Paul—when they are both calm and not in the middle of a disagreement— that they sit down and come up with some communication commitments. It doesn’t matter how long or short a time you and your mate have been together or whether or not you are married. At any time, you can make agreements about how you two will communicate with one another.

Communication commitments look different to each couple. You can figure out the specifics by going within and sharing what you want with you partner and then listening to what he or she wants. When sharing what you want, steer clear of accusations or blaming. Focus on what type of sharing you want. The ultimate intention here is that the communication brings you closer to your love, not further disconnected from him or her.

Cheryl and Paul each took some time to think about how they’d like to communicate with one another—even when they are both triggered and angry. Here are a few of the commitments they agreed upon:
*We will do our best to always speak with integrity and honesty.
*We will remember our love for one another even when we disagree.
*We will treat one another and ourselves with respect (i.e. no name calling).
*If either of us needs a “time out” to cool off, we will agree on a specific time to come back together again and resolve the issue. We will not run away from the conflict.

Re-visit and re-affirm your commitments
Does this mean that this couple—or you and your partner-- will never have a disagreement or argument again? Of course not. After Cheryl and Paul set their communication commitments, they both felt great. They each did their best to follow what they’d agreed to and they found disagreements ebbed and flowed with more ease than before. Cheryl and Paul felt happier about their connection and this had positive effects in other areas of their relationship as well.

But then Paul’s mother came to visit. For whatever reason, misunderstandings and hurt feelings appear inevitable around her visits driving a wedge between Paul and Cheryl. This visit was no different than previous ones. One night (after his mother had gone to bed), a disagreement erupted between Cheryl and Paul and both acted as if they’d not set any communication commitments. Everything was out the window and it felt like they were back at square one. This time it was Cheryl who walked out and went to her cousin’s house.

When Cheryl and Paul were able to sit down together again, both felt disappointed that they’d slipped back into their old communication habits. Paul pulled out the piece of paper they’d written their original commitments on and, together, they read them. While each had moments where they wanted to point a finger of blame at the other, neither did. They simply re-read this list of agreements and affirmed to one another that they still want to commit to them. They each apologized, forgave themselves and one another and said “I love you.”

The process of changing communication habits and keeping agreements can be trying at times. But it can be as simple as re-visiting what you agreed to and remembering why you set the commitments in the first place: because you love each other and want to keep opening to and connecting with your partner.

Author's Bio: 

Susie and Otto Collins help people create more connected, loving relationships and are the authors of a new program Stop Talking on Eggshells For a free report on how to reverse what you don’t like in your relationships, visit Relationship Reverse Report