This article outlines a few communication tips based on what couples have found helpful in communicating their needs. This straightforward model, outlined below, helps you convey what you see as a problem, how you feel about it, what you want, and what you will do if it doesn’t happen. It is designed to be clear, concise, non-emotional, and non-judgmental. People who use this model find that communication is less likely to get off track and become attacking.
Try to use “I” rather than “you” statements.
When a distressing situation arises, and you get into an argument, try to leave out “You” statements such as ‘You never, you always, you should have’…as this can make the other person become immediately defensive, which starts the “blame game.”
Rather try using, “I” statements. “When I am yelled at like this… I am treated like this… I don’t get a response from you… my feelings are not taken into consideration.”
State how you feel.
Saying, “I feel” gives the other person information about how the situation or comment effects you. It also helps validate yourself and helps you feel more empowered.
I feel angry, hurt, betrayed, embarrassed, etc.
Try to state both secondary and primary feelings. Secondary feelings (anger) is the result of a primary feeling (shamed, belittled).
“I feel really angry when I feel taken advantage of.”
State what you want.
It is important to let the other person know what it is that you want from them in terms of behavioral change.
“I want you to stop yelling at me and talk to me in a respectful tone.”
“I want acknowledgement and appreciation for what I do right and not to feel always criticized.
“I want to feel that my feelings are recognized, and taken into consideration.
State what you will do if your wishes are not met.
If the other person ignores you, says, “no”, is passive-aggressive, or blows you off, you will need to consider using this step. “Or I will need to . . .” is not to be used as a threat or a punishment, but is what you will do to take care of yourself without the cooperation of the other person.
“If this behavior continues, we will need to seek help.”
The most powerful tool you have at this point is to stop interacting with the other person if they keep persisting. Keep in mind that you must follow through with what you say you will do.
When the subject is being changed many times and the other person is trying to throw you off track by bringing up all of your other past sins and trying to get you confused, keep the focus on the main topic, the one in the present moment, which keeps the conversation in the “here and now.”
“Lets keep our discussion on the topic we started with.”
Reinforce Efforts at Change
Be grateful for any efforts at improving the relationship. Some studies have shown that gratitude benefits both the giver and the receiver,” according to Todd Reed, a communication author and coach. “When either of you does something nice for the other, such as letting you sleep in, washing the dishes when it’s your turn – take a second to show appreciation. Even if you’re just saying thanks for the small stuff, it can go a long way in solidifying your relationship.”
Sometimes emotions can get in the way of healthy communication. If you feel that you have already tried some of these tips and have been unsuccessful- do not assume that the situation is hopeless. Everyone needs help, once in a while, so consider either individual counseling to learn and practice these skills, and/or couples counseling if your partner is willing to give it a try.
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Summary: Article on 6 Communication Tips For Couples to argue less and love more.