Communication skills for couples
Let’s face it, relationships can be hard. When things don’t seem healthy or fair to one or both partners in a relationship, people tend to get angry, withdrawn, sad or irritated. Sometimes we avoid talking about what’s wrong for fear that an argument or conflict will follow. But the reality is that relationship grievances don’t get addressed by sticking your head in the sand and hoping the problem will go away! Thankfully, there are tried and true ways of communicating that tend to lead towards problem solving instead of towards arguing. The first step is to have the courage to talk about how you are feeling with your partner. What are you angry or sad about? It’s very possible that your partner isn’t aware of what they’ve done, but they’ve probably noticed that you’ve been angry, sad, anxious, or just acting different. You can help them to understand by first using an I statement to explain how you feel. For example: “Honey, I feel sad and ignored when you look at your phone during dinner and don’t speak to me” or “I felt anxious when you asked me to make a decision on the spot about whether your brother could stay with us”. But don’t stop there. The next step is to then to ask for what you want your partner to do differently. Make it as clear as possible and frame it in concrete behavioral terms. “I would like you to pay more attention to me” is too vague and confusing. “I would like meal times to be cellphone free” and “I would like more time to think about your brother’s visit” are much more specific and clear for your partner. These communication tips may seem obvious or they may be brand new to you. More importantly, have you been using them? Give these communication skills a try and see if they lead to a happier relationship and better days ahead!