Better Communication Equals Better Balance In Your Relationship!
Every relationship goes through ups and downs with both partners vying for attention, love, and even power! It's the emotionally “wise” couple that realises at any given point the couple, or one of the partners, may have needs or issues that are difficult to meet. This is when the “unwise” couple ends up arguing in destructive ways. The wise couple works it out without diminishing each other or their relationship.
Relationships are also about compromise. From the outside that might appear to mean that every partner gives something up when in a relationship. However by viewing the bigger picture, each partner should feel that they're benefiting more by compromising with each other.
There are a number of tips, tricks and techniques you can use to ensure you have effective communication and compromise that promote a happy relationship and can either prevent arguments or ensure you argue constructively when you do.
Dr Pam’s damage-limitation tips:
PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE:
1/ Don't stew over things. If you can’t get an issue out of your mind then you need to talk about it with your partner. Do this before it boils over!
2/ That said, if it's a small issue that's not really playing on your mind, ask yourself how you'd feel if your partner raised it with you? Would you be fine with it or think it was a ridiculously petty thing? If you'd feel it was petty remind yourself about the bigger picture.
3/ Have regular discussions when you’re both chilled out about where things are going right and perhaps where things are going "less right".
4/ Remind yourself every day why you first fell in love. It's easy to forget these important things with the daily grind of life.
5/ Accept responsibility for your part of the relationship. You can’t expect your partner to always make you feel better, always help you de-stress, always help you find solutions to your problems, etc.
6/ When calm, identify ‘hot spots’ that make you angry. Most arguing forms a pattern around a couple core issues. Plan how to move forward on these.
7/ Agree some topics you may never compromise over but you agree to disagree – and don't argue about these!
8/ Learn from past mistakes. It's no good sorting something out but then falling back into the same negative cycle. Check each other by asking in a positive fashion, "how am I doing with X, Y, or Z?"
1/ Learn to express your needs in a helpful way. For example, if you need extra TLC because your manager’s giving you a hard time at work – ask your partner for it. Even the most loving partner may not realise when things have got worse in a particular situation for you.
2/ Your partner is not a mind reader and this is particularly true for men. Rather than drop hints about something, expecting him to guess what's on your mind, choose a simple but straightforward and honest way to mention it.
3/ Speak clearly, without what can be frustrating pauses and silences. Check the other has understood what you said. It's better to say, e.g., "Do you understand how that hurt my feelings?" and get them to feed-back to you what their understanding of the situation is. Rather then crossing your fingers and hoping they understood you.
4/ Choose your time wisely to bring something up. If you've only got 15 minutes you don't want to raise something that actually needs an evening to discuss. Or if you’re both stressed out after a long day it may end up in a row.
5/ Mind how much alcohol is involved when discussing important issues. A little alcohol can relax you both but too much means you may get argumentative or say things you might think twice about saying when sober.
6/ Switch-off mobiles, TV, radio, etc., to prevent interruptions.
7/ Agree 1-2 goals to discuss when having a constructive conversation - not all, e.g., 12 issues you disagree over!
8/ Begin with something positive about your partner. By generating a good vibe from the start of a discussion you're more likely to stick to a positive path.
9/ Be "hopeful" when discussing an issue that crops up frequently by identifying an instance where, e.g., you haven't argued over this particular issue. By being hopeful your partner is more likely to feel hopeful about the issue.
10/ Choice of words is important - for example, use "I statements" beginning with "I feel x, y, z" as this personalises what you're saying.
11/ Explain your part in the issue - problems are rarely 100% one partner's fault.
LEARN TO LISTEN:
1/ Feedback to your partner what they've told you so you know you've got the right meaning/message.
2/ As you listen to what they're saying try putting yourself in their shoes. Think through how you'd really feel in their position.
3/ Once you've listen to what they have to say write out your two points of view. See if there’s middle ground you two haven’t ‘seen’.
4/ Even if your partner says something you entirely disagree with, let them finish their thought - do not interrupt them!
IF IT GETS HEATED:
1/ Give each other two minutes uninterrupted talking time. Use an egg timer if needs be to stick to this.
2/ Agree if things get heated you'll take a "breather", and then try discussing the issue
from a different tack. Many issues do not get sorted in one go.
3/ Don't throw into an already heated exchange an irrelevant issue from past rows. Let those things go and stick to whatever you’re disagreeing about now.
4/ If an argument starts, count to ten before yelling. This gives your brain a chance to get in gear rather then be dominated by strong emotions. If it doesn't work then tell your partner you must leave the room to cool-down as you don't want to say anything you'll regret.
5/ Never make sweeping generalisations like, ‘you never help me!’ It’s very rare that someone ‘never’ does something positive or ‘always’ does something negative.
6/ Rather than shout, e.g., "You f**king Bas***d" think of something funny to shout like, "You silly bunny!" to dispel anger. It can work and is far less regrettable!
7/ The old adage "don't let the sun go down on anger" is true. It's far better to make up or at least to give each other a hug, and the reassurance that you’ll work it out, and suggest continuing at another time.
8/ When angry never go for your partner's emotional "jugular vein". Stop yourself before saying something you'll completely regret, e.g., in anger shouting, "we should get a divorce!" Once you put the D-word into your arguments it's a very slippery slope.
When all is said and done and you've expressed yourself, listened to your partner, and hopefully understood each other it's always far more important to be happy together then for one of you to be “right” about something. Someone can be the most " right" person in the world - and the most lonely - having lost out in love by never graciously bowing out of an argument that's really not worth having.
Relate Couples Couselling – 0845-130-4016