Have you ever found yourself in a conversation and you had no idea what was going on? It’s almost like you got in a car, began driving, and had no idea where you were going or where you were. But somehow, you ended up on a dead-end road to nowhere and that’s not what you want it to happen.
If you are like many of us, you don’t want these types of cycles to continue.
Here are some strategies to help you navigate around them.
- When your partner does something that you don’t like, stop and think before you do anything else.
- Be clear on what you want to say. Focus on what you know for sure. What are the facts, and what do you feel? Avoid assuming that you know what is going on with your partner.
- Consider presenting requests rather than making demands, unless safety issues are involved.
- When you talk, good time. Make sure both of you can give your full attention and have adequate talk. Turn off the TV and eliminate other distractions.
- Make your motivations clear. You’re not just trying to control. Interest is in making the relationship work better.
- Hold on to your values -your relationship, for example – but possible and how those values get expressed.
- When you make requests, make them so clear that there is no question what you want. Instance, “try harder” or “take responsibility” are very vague. “Balance the checkbook on Saturday morning” is much better.
- Listen and be sure you understand before you form your reply. Take your time. This is part of a conversation that you want to last a long time.
- Keep your focus on making your behavior as helpful as possible rather than on trying to control the behavior of your partner.
If you get stuck and frustrated, call a time out if necessary. Let the other person know that you will talk about this again but you don’t want it to get distracted. Usually 15 or 20 minutes is sufficient time to calm down.
Try to get to the point where you both are very clear on what is needed and can commit to what you eat you’re willing to do. Do something you don’t want.
Consider setting a date to talk about your progress again. Write it on the calendar and make it happen.
When you find something that works for you, again but also be ready to something else.
Add your own ideas to this process. Keep this list some place where you can get to it when you feel you may not handle a situation in a rational way. Pick and choose the suggestions that work for you.
Don’t try to do all these at once. If you find one that looks fine, get with it until it becomes second nature.
There’s no doubt communicating with anyone is difficult, a partner or significant other. If you would like help with us supporting you on implementing healthy communication ways with your partner, reach out to one of our therapists today.
These reproducible forms were products of the Couples Therapy Homework Planner and the Wiley practice planners resources.