How to Communicate with Your Partner
Who are you? You’re my partner, my companion, my source of comfort, my lover, the other parent to our kids…But, WHO are you?
So often, people in either first or second time around relationships claim that they cannot talk to each other. Some feel that they virtually are married (or partnered) to strangers. Just who is this person sharing my life…what is this person thinking or feeling?
The only way to develop a “genuine intimacy” in a relationship is to disclose a very personal part of yourself to the other person: your feelings, your thoughts. These are the essence of who YOU are as a person. In so doing, you are trusting that your partner will value your disclosure and become that much more bonded with you…enriched by your very presence. You will then nurture your relationship, much like water and sunlight nurture a garden.
Some patients in my practice want a quick recipe for improving their communication skills because they realize that these skills are so critical to developing and maintaining a loving, solid relationship. While there are no “shortcuts” in achieving good communication, the following are tried and true guidelines:
1) LISTEN to each other; Listening is the most important part of communication skills. Often, our partner’s mind is so busy with a retort to our statement, that REAL understanding of the partner’s message is impossible. LISTEN!
2) PARAPHRASE your partner’s words in order to make certain that you have an accurate reflection of her/his thoughts. Keep in mind that your comprehension of someone’s thoughts is subject to your own experiences, and therefore, may be a distortion of the meaning.
3) PROBLEM SOLVING: You and your partner need to set aside a time and a place in which discussions will be conducted. The agenda should be planned in advance. Trying to resolve a grievance when the grievance arises, is ill advised. Discussing the issue at a neutral time makes it more likely that the problem will be resolved effectively.
1. Begin with a positive statement.
2. Be specific.
3. Define the problem.
4. Be brief.
5. Discuss only one problem at a time.
6. Keep it current (no throwing in problems from the past)
7. Focus on solutions and COMPROMISE.
8. DESCRIBE the behavior that is upsetting to you and the changes you would like to be made. (Of course, that goes for BOTH of you!).
9. FINAL agreements should be in writing so that they are clear to each partner.
LOVE each other, and acknowledge how very lucky you are to have found one another in this life. Enriching your relationship will be a lifetime treasure of rewards.