Women often come to me for coaching on how to communicate with their partner in ways that bring them closer. A lot can be done, even if just one person is willing to work with their own triggers in a conscious way. When possible, it can be helpful to have dialogue with your partner about how to communicate better as a couple.
Couples sometimes find themselves in a communication pattern that keeps them in their “comfort zones” (withdrawl) or in a perpetual state of pursuing their partner. There is always a good reason people behave as they do, whether it is to avoid pain, or try to maintain the peace. However, sometimes these ways of coping effect our feelings of closeness and well-being over time.
It takes courage to share your honest thoughts and feelings. What might happen? Will he/she get offended?…angry?…withdraw? One of the ways to set the stage for more open conversation and a greater sense of safety with your partner, is to talk about talking! Dialogue about the following questions, when you are not angry or triggered emotionally, so you have something to work on the next time either of you needs to share something. You might just do one question, and return to it another day. The work you do as a couple on communication, will help you model healthy communication for your children and will help you become a better communicator in other areas of your life.
4 simple questions to focus on the task of improving communication & closeness (instead of blaming or fixing each other)
We focus on concrete and observable behaviours, instead of vague/unspoken demands or criticisms.
- How are we managing to communicate as well as we have so far? What do we think we do that contributes to that? (even small ways that you do well. eg being able to read when your partner has heard enough or not starting conversations when your partner is too tired)
- How will we know we are communicating slightly better? What signs would we look for?
- What can I do to make it easier for you to listen when I share my thoughts and feelings? (i.e. slow down a bit, share feelings without being personally critical of me eg. Why are you so disorganized or so clueless vs I feel stressed when there is chaos in the house)
- A habit I have that makes me a good communicator? A habit I have that can block healthy communication? How will I try to overcome this ?
As you practice these tools, you can refine and check in as you go. It’s ok for things to feel a little uncomfortable as you are learning or even feel that there is more conflict. If you have been in a pattern of withdrawing, you and your partner will be learning how to share and listen to each other, even when it’s not easy. Learning requires us to be outside the norms and experimenting. The pay off is amazing.
Please feel free to reach out if I can help! I have been with my partner for over 20 years. I understand how challenging relationship can be, and also how much can be done to grow together. You don’t have to do it alone!