We often hear from couples that they struggle with having open effective communication. We hear about how they don’t feel like they are being heard or their feelings are not valued. Other times we hear that it feels as if their partner is not truly listening but waiting to make a rebuttal. How can you work past these issues? Are there particular skills you can learn to help solve this issue? We often recommend that couples practice the following way of communication.
Assertiveness: This is when you are open and honest with how YOU feel and what YOU need or want from a relationship. This means using I statements instead of You statements. This brings the responsibility for feelings back on you. You take ownership of how you feel without blaming the other.
The second exercise in this process is a continuation of Assertiveness. It is Active Listening. At this time, you truly listen in order to hear and understand what is being said to you. You then reflect back what you heard said to you in order to clarify what was said.
How would a conversation sound when you use these two skills? Here is a possibility.
You: “I feel like my day is not important and my work is not valued when I don’t get asked how my day went or what happened at work.”
Partner: “I hear you say that you do not feel like your day is important or that your work is valued when you are not asked about your day or what happened while you were at work.”
You: “Yes, I need to be able to talk and process what happened at work and talk about my day when I get home.”
Partner: “So, you need to process your day and would like for me to listen and be interested in what your day was like.”
You: “Yes that would be really helpful if we could discuss our days when we get home.”
You have now had a conversation about an important issue instead of a fight! All because you were willing to own your feelings, state what you needed and asked to get it. And your partner listened to you and responded. Give this a try.
You can practice this with different scenarios and role play it until it feels normal for you. This style of communication removes blame and shame, gives ownership of the feelings back to the person who is feeling them.
We have additional ways you can work on your communication to improve your relationship. Give us a call to arrange a meeting to explore other communication skills. 336-937-0890 or contact us to learn more !