4 Tips to Communicate like a PRO in your Relationship
Do you ever wonder why every time you try to talk with your partner it ends up in a fight? Or you tried to ask for what you wanted, and your partner shut you or they shut you down? Are you tired of not feeling heard in your marriage or relationship?
Let’s solve these problems for good right here and now…but you’ll have to try something different than you’ve been doing and it might feel awkward. Are you ready to learn and implement something new in your relationship? Then let’s go…
- Show RESPECT AND KINDNESS. Do you care about the person you’re married to? You might respond with “Of course, I care”. Words can hurt and careless words spoken in anger can become seared into your partner’s mind. John Gottman refers to these damaging words and actions as The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: contempt, criticism, defensiveness, and stonewalling. Reduce these words and actions to preserve your relationship. Remember that you “like” your partner (at least most of the time or you wouldn’t be together) and treat each other with RESPECT and KINDNESS.
- Make a REQUEST instead of complaining in your marriage. No one likes to hear their partner complain and especially about them!! Complaints in a relationship often sound like, “You never help clean up” or “You always say “no” when I want to have sex” or “You should know what I want, and I shouldn’t have to ask for it.” What’s wrong with these statements? Several things. Who would want to get close to someone who reminds them of the things they’re doing wrong? Not me and probably not you. Do this instead:
- Tell your spouse what you DO want rather than what you don’t want. Remember we get what we ask for and what we focus on. So, focus your comments on what you would love to experience in your relationship.
- Also, avoid triggering words such as “always and never”. Most people don’t “always” or “never” do anything. Catch your spouse doing something right in your marriage and you’ll train yourself to see more of that…what they’re doing right.
- Also starting a sentence with the word “you” can feel accusatory and cause your partner to go on the defensive. So, what do we do instead? Make a request! It can sound like, “Would you mind stopping by the store on your way home to pick up bananas?” “Hey babe, would you mind helping clean up?” or “Honey, I feel so close to you I’d love to cuddle or go to bed early tonight, how does that sound to you?”
- Go deeper and speak about how you FEEL: So many people long for a deep, connected, satisfying relationship/ marriage and one way to do that is to talk about how you feel about life, yourself or the relationship. Most of us talk about our thoughts and what we think about a topic but let’s dig deeper and discuss our feelings to feel closer.
Here’s a few examples of both:
Thought: “My boss is a jerk, I’m going to get a new job.”
Feeling: “I felt so nervous today at work I thought my boss was mad at me.”
Thought: “You never want to have sex anymore.”
Feeling: “I feel lonely and I’d love it if we could connect more intimately.”
These feeling statements allow the speaker to share their fears, worries, hopes and dreams. Feeling statements allow for a continuation of conversation so the listener can be curious, ask questions and show empathy for their partner in their relationship. Statements that can help your relationship sound like: “That sounds scary, tell me more.” or “What happened?” or “I didn’t realize you felt that way. Can you tell me more?”
- Take your partner’s side and show EMPATHY: Instead of playing devil’s advocate, take your partner’s side, protecting them in public and private. Stan Tatkin discusses this relationship concept in his book Wired for Love. Even if your partner is upset with you, stay curious and try to understand where they’re coming from. You don’t have to agree with them just show empathy for their point of view. This can sound like: “I see where you’re coming from.” or “That makes sense, I understand better now.” These statements must be said authentically and with honesty rather than just reciting the words or you’ve lost the power of them.
These are just a few ideas to try this week with your partner or spouse. Remember, you like each other and want to preserve the relationship or marriage. Show each other RESPECT, KINDNESS, REQUESTS, FEELINGS and EMPATHY. Let me know how this goes for you…