For better communication, we’re told to use “I” statements instead of the accusatory “you.” For example, “I feel upset because I had to take out the trash again” rather than “you are so inconsiderate. I’ve told you a hundred times to take out the trash and you still don’t do it.” The idea is that when you talk about yourself, your partner is more likely to hear you; therefore, more likely to comply with your wishes. Blaming plugs up people’s ears and makes them defensive.
While it’s true that “I” is better than “you,” what I’ve found in my own relationship is that “we” is even more effective. “Honey, let’s sit down together and find a solution to this.” Or, let’s talk about this so we can get past this awful struggle.” “We” makes you a team. There’s no blame, just a desire for both of you to figure something out in order to bring more harmony into your relationship.
When you do sit down together, each of you needs to talk about your own feelings. “I’m so tired, honey, I really need your help. How can we make this better? Said this way, you bring the other person in and open the door to his/her suggestion. Perhaps they might say, “I’m sorry. I’m tired too and I know I sometimes get careless with my chores. Why don’t we get a larger trash basket so that I can take it out every two days instead of every day? That way it’s easier for me, and I promise I’ll get it done.”
This kind of teamwork-communication takes practice, of course. Accusatory language is the default response for a lot of us when we’re upset, so we have to stop and think about its consequences…arguments, fights, the distance it causes, and the fact that you’re not likely to get what you want. So, for the sake of harmony in your partnership, stop and think the next time you want to lash out. Your partner will appreciate it and you both will enjoy a happier relationship.
Check out my book, The Affair: From Breakdown to Breakthrough, A Therapist’s Real-life Journey, for more great tips and insights about relationships. You can read a synopsis of the book on my website, www.infidelityandaffairs.com and buy it worldwide from all Amazon websites (both print and Kindle) and Barnes and Noble.