While every couple has its idiosyncrasies, one golden rule for all healthy relationships is this – communication is key.

Before you shake your head at how cliche it sounds, consider this: Love is so easy yet relationships get complicated, messy, and hurtful. That’s because relationships call on two different people to communicate their two different loves to each other.

Luckily, communication is something you can practice, and we’ve got a few tips on how you can communicate better with your significant other. In fact, read these tips with your S.O.!

Speak their love language. We don’t all show love and affection in the same ways. In The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, he outlines the five major love languages as gift giving, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and physical touch. The idea is that you cannot expect someone to feel your love if you don’t speak it in their “language.” Maybe you write long, sweet Instagram captions about your partner…but what he really wants is more hand-holding in public. So think about what makes your lover feel the most loved. If you don’t know, ask! Through practice, you will become fluent in theirs to best communicate your love.

Set boundaries. Boundaries simply come down to what is OK and what isn’t OK. But sometimes, you might let your lover cross the line of what makes you comfortable or happy over and over again. Eventually, resentment builds up and takes a form it never had to succumb to – a fight, or even a breakup — which is why it’s so important for both parties to assert what they need from a relationship. Have a conversation about the things that you’re willing to accept and not accept in a relationship.

Know when to pause. When things get heated, tensions are high, and emotions feel overwhelming, it’s difficult to communicate, let alone find a resolution. You end up reacting – but the goal is to respond, not react. Simmer down enough to where your logic takes reign, and then you can have a productive conversation. Though it may feel difficult to drop the argument, remind yourself that this is ultimately the more efficient route to improving your relationship.

Use the sandwich! If you want to bring up a topic that may be difficult for your partner to hear, try sandwiching that comment between positive statements. For example, instead of saying, “You neglect me when you work so much,” try saying, “I’m so proud of all the things you’re accomplishing with your work! But I do wish we could spend more time together. How about we do something fun next weekend?” They’ll likely be more receptive because you’re not attacking them, and rather explaining how you’re feeling and offering a realistic solution.

Reassure them. Even in conversations that may feel difficult, reassure your partner that being open about these tough topics is best for the relationship. After all, you wouldn’t address it if you didn’t care about it! When two people feel safe talking about anything, that’s when you can really let yourselves love freely.

xx, The FabFitFun Team