Too many couples come into marriage counseling and relationship coaching blaming, yelling, name-calling, interrupting, talking over the other, talking about the other person, being an expert on what is wrong with their spouse and how their spouse should change.
Often the other person has tuned out and turned off, feeling badgered or nagged, and avoiding all possible communications that might lead to an argument. Or they yell back and try to win the argument, not thinking about being on the same team.
Both members of the couple experience a lot of emotional distance, disconnection, anger, hurt, and are often considering divorce or wondering how they can endure the next decade or so. Sometimes they come in together, sometimes alone. They are stuck, miserable and confused. They want help fixing it but have no idea where to begin.
There is one key to turn all this around – begin to think about yourself! Think and talk about your feelings, your needs, your wants, your poor communication habits, your weaknesses, your faults, your difficult behaviors, your mistakes, your errors, your actions, what you can do to make yourself feel more positive, and what you can do to solve the problems.
Begin managing your feelings, your behaviors and your beliefs. Talk about yourself to your partner and take ownership of your beliefs, feelings and actions. Talk in “I” statements rather than “You” statements. Stop talking about your partner.
By talking about yourself, you will get your partner to listen better and to understand you, as well as agree with you on many things. Your spouse will be glad you accept responsibility for your actions and will stop feeling vilified. The idea, of course, is for the other person to then begin doing the same. If you both talk about yourself and listen to the other, you will begin taking down the wall between you. You will feel less angry and you’ll start to feel more connected to each other.
- Speak in “I’ statements about your beliefs, feelings and behaviors.
- Listen to your partner, summarize their statements and validate their feelings before you state your own opinion.
- Respond in an interested, enthusiastic and caring manner when your partner shares.
- Take responsibility for your behaviors and genuinely apologize for your mistakes and unkind actions.
- Share concisely.
- Be comfortable sharing important aspects of you.
- Ask for what you need and want.
- Compliment your partner several times a day, about many aspects of their character and their behaviors, and be sure it is genuine.
- Choose good times to communicate so you are free of phones and children with plenty of energy if it is a sensitive discussion.
- Practice good communication skills several times a week or even for 10 minutes a day until you have developed excellent communication habits.
- Change your behaviors to solve an irritation and you will change your feelings.
- Practice thinking positively and looking for the positive in situations. Find the silver linings in difficult or negative situations.
- Spend time sharing activities and having fun with your partner.
- Have an enjoyable date each and every week to share pleasurable experiences as a couple.
- Be respectful.
- Be kind – always.
Couples who follow these good communication skills feel more positive emotions, experience a sense of partnership, and demonstrate a loving relationship. Life becomes rewarding and fulfilled again because you have healed the emotional distance and breakage of your attachment. You have your hot buttons in control so you can be more of your authentic self with your partner. Let’s see the loving relationship you create!