Relationships can be greatly strengthened when children are added; but they can also take a beating.  Remember to love and respect your partner – even if you want to strangle him or her.  The most important skill to master is communication.  The following provides some help with approaches to communication:

Effective Communication Techniques (adapted from guidelines published by West Virginia University)

  1. Make the Time
    • Frequency – practice communication regularly and it will become a good habit.
    • Appropriateness – Don’t ask your partner to have a heart to heart during the third period of the Stanley Cup finals.  Your request will not be well received.  Find a mutually convenient time.  You will both feel engaged and the quality of communication will be better.
  2. Listen Actively
    • Be attentive – concentrate on what is being said.
    • Be impartial – don't form an opinion, just listen.
    • Reflect back – restating what has been said helps the speaker know that you understand.
    • Summarize – pull together the important messages so that you and the speaker recognize what was important during the conversation.
  3. Nonverbal Message
    • Posture – let your body show that you are interested by sitting up and leaning toward your partner.
    • Equal positioning – if your partner is standing, you stand. If your partner is sitting, you sit as well.
    • Facial expression – remember that feelings are reflected in facial expressions.
    • Gestures – your body language reveals a lot about how you interpret a message, so be aware of when you send signals that might cause your partner to believe that you are angry, in a hurry, bored, etc.
  4. Express Thoughts and Feelings
    • Be open and honest – collaboration between partners begins with the understanding that you trust each other with all information.
    • Speak clearly – don't mumble. If you don't know the word for something, describe what you mean so that you and your partner can have a shared understanding of your concern.
  5. Communicate Without Being Adversarial
    • Express concerns non-judgmentally – talk about your questions or concerns without blaming other people.
    • Use "I" messages. Rather than say, "You didn't explain that very well," say, "I didn't understand what you just said. Please explain it again."

In addition, remember the love that brought you together in the first place and nurture it.  Two books that are worth reading on the subject of managing your love are:

The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman.  The book offers perspective on how each of us gives and receives love differently.

Getting the Love You Want by Harville Hendrix.  The book provides guidance on communication techniques for a loving relationship.