The majority of us are aware of how crucial communication is in a relationship. But many of us also fail to communicate effectively when it’s time to put things into practice. That’s because excellent intentions by themselves are insufficient.

Communication is a set of skills that must be developed, and in the context of love relationships where demands diverge and emotions are strong, those abilities need even more practice.

Relationship communication issues can be divided into two groups: content-related issues and process-related issues. Communication problems that are caused by content include issues like finances or sleeping preferences.

The majority of couples experience problems with process-related communication obstacles, which have to do with things like how you settle disputes or how you make decisions together.

Too frequently, when couples try to talk about issues, they only go over the surface. You can frequently identify underlying emotions like hurt or fear if you dig underneath the anger or fury at the center of a quarrel.

To that end, effective listening is one of the most underappreciated communication skills. Instead of responding, proposing a solution, or attempting to win an argument, try to listen to understand.

You can achieve this by engaging in reflective listening, which is reflecting back in your own words what your conversation partner has stated.

But what if your partner is expressing an opinion with which you disagree? One of the hardest communication skills to master—and one that will make you a pro at handling conflict—is validating your partner’s emotions, even when you don’t agree with what they are saying.

As with any skill, communication skills can be improved by practice and trial-and-error. You might be surprised at how much your relationship improves if you keep the practices mentioned above in mind and incorporate them into your daily talks with your partner.