Forget sending flowers and candy to the one you love for Valentine's Day. The best gift -- and the heart and soul of romance, for that matter -- is good communication. Everyone wants to be understood, heard and accepted. But few know how to find the right way to express what is inside, and even fewer know how to listen.
The greatest barrier to emotional intimacy is the feeling that you have to be someone different than who you are. Once you change that attitude, you will be on the road to better communication. The next step is learning how to talk and listen in ways that can help you get closer to your partner -- more and more each day. By following six simple steps, you can increase intimacy and open the proverbial emotional doors that might be standing between you:
1. Accept your partner as he is -- and do the same for yourself. Stop telling your partner what is wrong with him. When a person feels judged or criticized, he can never open up and become close to you. Drop the desire to change him, and say to yourself, I will let this person be as he is and let go of my wish to control him.
2. Focus on what's right about your partner -- and tell him about it. Realize that you fell in love with your partner for a reason. Focus on whatever it was that drew you to him in the first place. Was it that wacky sense of humor? His potential to be a great father? That sweet smile? Then, remind him of all the things he does to make you happy. So often, we communicate the complaints but keep silent about the compliments. Instead, make a point of letting your partner know whenever he does something to please you, or when there is something about him that you genuinely like and respect. The rewards are twofold: First, you are giving your partner a confidence boost, and second, your praise clues him in to what qualities are meaningful to you.