3 Ways to Communicate Better With Your Partner
If you’ve ever been in a romantic relationship, you know firsthand how frustrating it can be. Once two people start sharing more and more time together, perhaps even begin living under the same roof, arguments are bound to happen from time to time.
Sure, you both started out on your best behavior – you both believed the other could do no wrong. But as the days, weeks and months passed, and as the shiny newness of the relationship wore off, that’s when the arguments and bickering began.
But here’s some good news: just because you both find yourselves frustrated with the other more often, that doesn’t mean your relationship is in big trouble. Arguing is not a sign of a hopeless relationship, but how you handle yourself during those arguments is an indicator of the health of the relationship. I can’t count the number of times I’ve taught couples how to fight fairly.
If you and your partner are frustrated with one another, here are some of my common tips to help you communicate better:
- Be Direct
Indirect communication leaves much to be desired. It also leaves one or both parties very confused. Don’t beat around the bush when you have something to say or when you want to share with your partner why you are frustrated with them. If it is your partner who has initiated the conversation, don’t try to evade it, switch topics or hijack the focus onto you. It takes directness to problem solve.
- Talk, Don’t Blame
How you speak to your partner is key during times of frustration. You want to be clear and direct, but you never want to point the finger. Doing so will only cause your partner to become defensive and the conversation will go off the rails.
For instance, if you are frustrated with your girlfriend who tends to be jealous when you innocently talk to other women, you wouldn’t want to say something like, “You are totally out of your mind!” That will only invite defensiveness.
Instead, try using an “I statement” followed by labeling an actual feeling and pair that with a “behavior descriptions.” This is a constructive strategy because I statements focus on how you feel, without blaming your partner, and behavior descriptions focus on a specific behavior your partner is engaging in rather than a character flaw.
So, for example, you might say something like, “I get frustrated when you think I am flirting with someone when the conversation is completely innocent.” This allows you to be clear and direct without drawing your partner’s character into the line of fire.
- Stay Focused
A constructive discussion will demand both partners’ full attention. By this I mean it’s important to stick to the issue at hand and not drag other frustrations and resentments into the conversation. This can be tricky as it’s often easy to slide into other topics that appear related. Resist the urge to shift topics and try to solve one relationship issue at a time.
If both of you have been keeping your frustrations pent-up and now can barely speak to one another without completely blowing your top, you may want to consider seeking couple’s therapy. The therapist’s at Solid foundations Therapy will be able to guide the conversation, keeping it loving and constructive and help you masters fighting fairly.
Interested in exploring treatment options? Get in touch