Have you recently wanted to tell your partner something but decided not to because you were too afraid that it would hurt your partner’s feelings?
Oftentimes, couples are afraid to open up to their partners and say what they really need because they are worried about hurting their partner’s feelings and rocking the boat while simultaneously suppressing their own voice and their true inner needs. This leads to a disconnection in knowing more about each other’s inner worlds and a missed opportunity for the other partner to listen and be supportive. When this occurs consistently overtime, one partner’s will feel that his/her needs are not met ending up in arguments and conflicts.
Try this activity next time you want to express your needs:
First, set some ground rules before you start. This is extremely crucial to having a conversation about what you want to discuss so that your partner understands that he/she needs to become an active listener. Make sure you and your partner refrain from any judgment, blame, contempt or criticisms and to just become all ears for you while you express your needs.
By using “I-statements”, your partner will feel less confronted/attacked. The finger-pointing behavior is taken away and your partner will be more willing to listen.
Identify what it is that you feel and what it is that you need. For example,
“I feel _______.” (angry, upset, lost, overwhelmed, insecure, etc.)
“I need _________.” (to be alone, someone to listen to me rant, your guidance a hug, space.)
Here is an example of what that conversation might look like:
“Honey, lately I’ve been feeling really overwhelmed and worried about family, work and life balance. I appreciate your support and time given to me but I also need some space and time alone to re-balance myself.”
What are your needs? What do you need from your partner today?
A healthy relationship starts by being able to express yourself to your partner without feeling criticized, blamed or judged. Learning the skills in communicating effectively with your partner is essential and crucial to building a strong relationship foundation. A counsellor can help couples learn how to become active listeners and effective communicators.