In relationship counselling in my practice at Crows Nest, I see couples all the time for communication problems.
Sometimes it can seem easier to communicate with a total stranger than your own partner. Couples fall into traps with their communication all the time, which creates greater distance and disconnection. Respect seems to disappear and blame creeps in. You might feel like your partner doesn’t understand, “they don’t get it” and that you get caught up in arguments over little things that end up going nowhere and leave you feeling hurt and upset.
We live so much of our relationship within our mind, without actually verbalising our expectations or our concerns. We might try to hide our feelings from our partner, because we are scared of their reactions. We might interpret meaning into their behaviours, without actually finding out what’s really going. We might also expect that they can read our minds and just “sense” what’s really going on.
All of this can seriously damage our relationship, particularly when we are under stress. Add a baby or young child, sleepless nights and worry about money to your life and clear communication becomes even more important.
So I thought I would share 10 Do’s and Don’ts for communicating clearly and respectfully with your partner.
- Use “I” language rather than “You”
- Use a calm gentle tone
- Describe specific behaviours and how they made you feel
- Listen attentively without interruption
- Express what you want in the future eg, help with the shopping, to spend more quality time as a couplen
- Use “always” or “never” in your language
- Blame, fix, attack or criticise
- Use a harsh, unloving tone
- Hide your feelings and desires
- Keep arguing until overwhelmed and exhausted
If you are finding it hard to communicate with your partner, working with a professional counsellor to learn the skills in communicating effectively and clearly can make a huge difference to the quality of your relationship. If you need support, please contact Ginny to make an appointment as an individual or as a couple.