Talking with your partner is like making love to them. Here’s how to tune into them so you’re both very happy.
If you want to fall in love again, you will want to learn how to share and be honest about your feelings, you will have to be realistic and logical without the drama, you will have to learn a few communication rules (like no name-calling), and mostly, you will need to be an awesome listener and responder.
Usually no one teaches you how to do these skills. Here is your opportunity to learn to be the BEST lover, the BEST listener, the BEST responder.
Men: be open, trusting and share the good stuff inside of you
To create more happiness in your relationship, start sharing your dreams, goals, values, philosophy, successes, gratitudes, concerns, worries, little tickles, and light moments.
Create great conversations. Women want to know what their guy is thinking, how he is feeling, what are his successes, what are some of his responses to things in his daily purview. In other words, she wants to know what is going on inside of you.
You do not have to recap your day, guys. But you do need to find and select a few things to share: the things that were most interesting, curious, entertaining, meaningful, practical or ridiculous about your day. As scary as it may seem, your spouse wants inside your head.
Try to find an area you are willing to open up to her. She will be thrilled. You might even share what you are most grateful for or what she has done that you appreciate the most.
If you do this regularly she’ll probably want more sex with you. As a lover, you do things to please her. As a lover in verbal communication, do things to please her…
Women: be focused, concise, and call your girlfriends if you want to be emotional
- Women, you probably need to talk less. If you are anything like me, you say it in 15 ways, to make sure he gets it. He has tuned you out in #2.
- Shorten the story. Do not present a case as if you are preparing for court. (Remember he stopped listening at #2.)
- Do not prove you are right and he is wrong. (He is no longer paying attention…)
- Learn to summarize. Don’t connect it to 37 other items. Discuss one at a time.
- And give him your solutions if you are talking about you. No solutions if talking about him.
- DO the same as I asked him to do – tell him a few things each day you appreciate about him.
He’ll probably want more sex, but you will get much more intimacy and loving, maybe even some romance. (Remember in the beginning of your relationship – when he was romantic…) As a lover, you do things to please him. As a lover in verbal communication, do things to please him.
Couples: become experts at Active, Constructive Responding
Couples, you will want to learn the non-sexual orgasm of life.
Many psychologists have surpassed Carl Rogers in research and interventions that work for couples, but he is still the best when it comes to connecting with warmth and positive regard. He taught us how to listen. As my “mentor grandfather” he taught me there is no better gift to give in a relationship than to LISTEN and UNDERSTAND.
When your spouse demonstrates understanding of what you are saying or meaning, you feel loved to your very core. Your love is resonating together. It is unconditional love, unconditional positive regard or the non-sexual orgasm of life. That is what we provide as marriage counselors, but, come on, how much better to get that understanding from your spouse!!!!?
An exercise to help make your relationship better is one called Active Constructive Responding. (You may want to try it on all your relationships including spouse, employee, child, friend, customer, anyone.)
Use this when someone shares something good with you – a positive event, a victory, a success. Shelly Gable at UCLA does research about how talking about good events can create an excellent relationship.
- Get prepared. Face each other so you can see your spouse’s eyes and face. With nothing between you, show attentiveness and interest, keeping eye contact the entire time the other is talking. Also demonstrate positive emotions, smiling, touching and laughing, etc.
- Listen with your full attention. Do not think about what you will say in return. Don’t talk. Don’t judge. Your spouse has the floor. You will be tested when the talking stops and we want you to get a 100% grade.
- Be active, constructive and enthusiastic in your response. Tell your spouse how marvelous “this” is and explain in detail what was said that is great and why. Put it in 2 or 3 sentences. In response to a sharing your spouse makes about recognition at work, you might say, “That is great! I’m so proud of you. I know how important that award is to you. Let’s go out and celebrate!”
- Practice this all week with as many people as possible, but especially with your spouse. If this way of responding is difficult, write down some of the things that others have shared and how you could have responded.
Couples, as lovers you often try to time your expression of sexual passion together, having orgasms at the same time. As lovers in verbal communication, practice expressing your nonverbal passion at the same time (by showing interest, enthusiasm and positivity).
When it comes to expressing your verbal love and passion, make it a resonating, reflective, and joyous response.
Couples: take responsibility, speak for yourself in “I” statements, learn to give meaningful apologies and loving compliments
One of the worst communication mistakes many people make is to criticize or blame the other person. I’m sure it is not getting you what you want. Let’s be practical. If it is not getting you the love and lightness you want in your marriage, STOP it!
Start with being kind. And continue the kindness as you repair difficulties. Then add skills which allow you to refocus on solutions instead of anger.
Learn to share your feelings in response to the other’s behaviors. Say, “I feel hurt, belittled and unknown when you point out my weaknesses.” That is better than pointing the finger at your spouse and making it their fault. “You always put me down and say awful things about me” will get you defensiveness and arguments instead of acknowledgements and acceptance of your feelings. “When you drive faster than I like I get scared and anxious” is better than, “You drive too fast and always make me scared to death!”
Learn to take responsibility for your own mistakes and weaknesses. Own up to things which could have hurt your spouse’s feelings. Apologize. Say what you did wrong and how the other might feel.
Learn your lines, “Honey, I am sorry for doing xyz. It was wrong, selfish and unkind. You could feel hurt, sad and unloved. I really don’t want to do things to hurt you like that. I will work on it and try very hard to change my behavior.” Then show the new, improved behaviors.
When you are upset with your spouse, try to figure out what you can do to make it better. Instead of telling the other person what you don’t like, first try changing your attitude and your behaviors.
Solve the problem without the other’s knowledge. Make yourself happy while being kind to the other person. If you can’t get your spouse to pay the bills on time and you have tried talking about it or being upset about it, just pay them yourself. You will be happier. If you don’t like the kitchen being messy, clean it yourself.
I had one client who started with the kitchen, but when it got to the entire house, he had to say something. Then when he added laundry and cooking, he came back for counseling for other ideas. Sometimes this is not enough and you have to look at additional solutions.
Another aspect to not making the other wrong is to speak in “I” statements. Say what you want and how you feel. Talk about yourself and your desires instead of your spouse’s behaviors or your assumed things about the other. “I want to have Italian food tonight” instead of, “You never let me pick the restaurant” or, “You always go for soup and salads.
Lighten things up and don’t take things too personally. Begin to tease each other about behaviors and patterns you agree on. It is fun when you can tease each other into better behaviors. Make fun of his mess in the bathroom; make fun of her always telling you what to do; get to the point where you are not defensive and it’s easy to see how ridiculous these behaviors are.
Tell your spouse complimentary and wonderful things about them each day. This is how he or she can start to fall in love with you. Compliment the other person’s behavior, intensions, character, and appearance.
Start where you can and begin to look for the more meaningful aspects of their personality. Begin with one compliment or appreciation a day, work up to three a day, and eventually make it an ordinary part of your conversation. Sweetness will return in bountiful amounts!
Remember, make conversation like you are making love
- Be comfortable sharing important aspects of you.
- Share concisely.
- Consider becoming an expert listener.
- Listen actively and respond with enthusiasm and interest to something positive the other says.
- Stop criticizing, finding fault and blaming.
- Be kind.
- State your feelings of response/reaction instead of your spouse’s behaviors.
- Learn to give a genuine apology.
- Change your behaviors to solve an irritation and you will change your feelings.
- Take responsibility for your actions and learn to create more positivity in your emotions. Talk in “I” statements, not “You” statements.
- Lighten up; add humor and teasing to your communication.
- Compliment your spouse several times every day.
- Get psychologically naked, be loving, do and say beautiful things and enjoy your love.
Become an excellent communicator to bring more happiness and love back to your relationship. Recall the kindness and carefulness you spoke with when you first began dating.
Bring that attitude and those loving actions back to your marriage. Become an excellent lover and express it through your verbal communication as well as your sexual communication.