What’s the No. 1 problem that couples present to me as they list the issues that exist in their troubled marriage? Yup, COMMUNICATION! Two people communicating at any time is problematic enough, but it is magnified big time when a couple attempts it. Power exchange, vulnerability, emotionality, etc… present challenges to a couple when they are trying to communicate, particularly if it is a touchy topic. Thus, I would like to present a few tips to enhance the process of effective communication.
Too often couples leap into a communication too hastily, without having much awareness of how they want to address something, especially if it is a sensitive topic. Knowing what you want to say, what outcome you desire, and process you want to use are not well thought out.
For starters, timing is important. Impulsivity generally is not a good idea. If you have something to say that is important, say to your partner that you would like to talk with him/her and ask what would be a good time to do it. This alerts your partner that something of importance needs to be addressed and that s/he needs to be optimally present for it. This is a way of showing respect for your partner and his/her schedule. Hopefully, when the designated time is reached your partner will be totally focused on hearing what you have to say.
For maximal impact you want to have high awareness of the following elements of good communication. First lesson is to use I, not you, in your presentation. “You” makes people defensive usually.
1. SENSING: See, hear, smell, etc… . Example: “I smell an odor.” Example 2: “I sense you are angry at me.”
2. INTERPRETING: Think, believe. “I think it is coming from you.” Example 2: “I believe you are angry that I spent too much money.”
3. FEELING: Feel. “I don’t feel good being around you now.” Example: 2 “I am scared of your anger.”
4. INTENTION: Intend, going to, will. “I am going out for a while.” Example: 2 “I am going for a bike ride.”
5. EXPRESSING: Action, behavior. “I hope you will take a shower.” Example 2: I hope you will calm down so we can make love later.” (are you smiling on this, Respected Reader?)
Showing respect, having good timing, not needing to “win”, leaving wiggle room, using appropriate language and tone, and having a good awareness of the above five factors should go a long way toward having effective communication with your spouse.
(Perhaps you could cut out this article, put in on your refrigerator, and when you need to have communication with your partner about a touchy subject, you could take a gander at this before proceeding!)