You’re having the same fight that you’ve had a hundred times.
Why can’t you help out a little around here? Why do I always get stuck with the kid carrying on like a pork chop/cooking/cleaning/paying the bills/planning date night….?
All of the couple’s advice says to let your partner know your needs. When you do, they change the subject. Then, they start attacking you for leaving your dirty laundry on the floor.
Or….When you bring up something troubling you, your partner gets angry and defensive. They feel as if you are personally attacking them. All you really want to do is to find a better solution to a simple problem.
Couples can get derailed when communicating.
I have found that there are four main communication styles of trouble in a relationship.
- Mind reading— One partner claims they know what the other is thinking, feeling, or intending on doing. Or, they know the “real” motivation behind what the other says/did or didn’t say or do
- Personalisation— Being defensive and perceiving offence in what is being communicated. Feeling a personal attack over a problem being raised.
- Distraction— The partner doesn’t respond to what is being brought up but changes the topic as a form of counterattack.
- Polarized language– One partner starts to hold differing opinions which causes a huge gap between the couple. The more one pulls their way, the more the other pulls the other way.
So what do you do if you are stuck on this communication merry-go-round?
Try this instead:
- Watch your words. Use only words of respect and love for your partner. Limit your criticism and don’t allow it to cross over into contempt.
- Respect the differences. Allow your partner to have their own way of thinking, believing, and feeling. Having different opinions does not have to threaten your bond as a couple. Let your partner be who they need to be and you do you. You may disagree on some things, but still, find a way to creatively solve a problem together.
- Give your partner your full self in the conversation. Put away your phone/tablet/laptop. Turn off your notifications. Give your partner your undivided attention. Everyone wants to be seen and heard. Give your partner the gift of yourself.
- Listen. Listen to understand, not just to respond and throw your opinion or defense at your partner. This behavior relays worth and value to your partner. You may even restate what your partner has said back to them, so they know you have understood.
Agree to be committed to finding a solution. More than 60% of what couples fight about continually has no clear-cut resolution. So, it may take you some time and using different strategies to find what works. Be “all in” when working on a way to solve a problem in your couple or family.