Communication can certainly be improved by using assertive statements in the way Grant and Melanie have described.
However, it's also really important, when discussing difficult issues, to be sure that you and your partner are really understanding where the other one is coming from - often a lot of communication is ‘lost in translation’ - either we and/or our partner are too upset to really hear what the other is saying. We can feel the urgency of getting our own point across, and find it difficult to slow down enough to listen and check that we understand our partner's perspective.
If you suspect this may be the case for you - try to do some ‘active listening’ with your partner. This involves saying things like:-
- what I hear you saying is that you're really upset that I don't give you a hug when you walk in the door after work.
- It sounds like you're disappointed that I don't help out more on the weekends.
Hearing how it is for your partner and acknowledging how they are feeling is not the same as having to agree with them. Sometimes when you really listen, you might find out what the issue really is underneath what might seem like an over-reaction to something trivial. For example - not getting a hug when he walks in the door might mean that he doubts his partner still loves him like she used to; if her partner doesn't help out on the weekends she may feel taken for granted - and may even be questioning if she is able to get her needs for nurturing and support met in the relationship.
Once these hidden layers of meaning are communicated, it becomes possible to have a different conversation about what is most important - to feel that my partner is really there for me, keeps me in mind, that my needs and wants matter to him/her.
warm wishes, Vivienne Colegrove
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