Communicating with your spouse isn’t always easy; things get lost in translation or fights break out. Here, Sharon Rivkin, MA, MFT and author of Breaking the Argument Cycle: How to Stop Fighting Without Therapy tells us how to communicate better in relationships.
Listen without interrupting.
This is tougher than you might think. Most people don’t have good listening skills and get triggered by one word that sets them off to talk about themselves, Rivkin says. Rather than giving into the impulse to talk over your partner, count to five in your head until the urge passes and allow him to finish talking.
Use “I” statements.
Talk about how something makes you feel, rather than attacking your partner. That way, he doesn’t feel like he has to defend himself right out of the gate, which can cause serious friction. By using “I” statements, you can avoid making the relationship’s problems all about him if they’re not.
Don’t attack your partner.
When you attack your partner, you set up a defensive mode of communicating, which starts to dig a deep hole that’s hard to get out of, Rivkin explains. We know it’s tempting, especially if you’re really angry, but try to avoid attack mode.
Say what you’re thinking.
It’s each person’s responsibility to communicate how she feels, and not our partner’s job to read our minds, guess what we’re thinking, or put words in our mouths. So rather than keep things inside in hopes your partner does a good job guessing, be open and honest.
Avoid shaming, blaming or always needing to be right, Rivkin suggests. “These are huge obstacles to good communication and will guarantee resentment, anger and frustration in the relationship,” she says. Instead, take turns talking, and if you don’t agree, ask questions and take a time-out if you have to, rather than getting angry and saying something you’ll regret.