One of the things that have immensely helped me to improve my communication with my spouse is the ability to communicate my feelings, especially when I am disappointed, angry or upset.
- Remove blame
What I have learned, by reading various books on communication, is that, even if my wife says or does something that hurts me, I have to remove any form of blame from my language.
Blame, even when justified, causes people to defend or even counterattack.
So, what I have learned is that it is way more effective to say something along the lines of “when you did this I felt…..”, “When you did this I interpreted as….”. This way I communicate how I felt and how I interpreted the situation and therefore I put the blame upon myself instead of blaming her and causing her to become defensive and retaliate.
- Avoid saying always/never
What I have also learned is that I need to avoid saying things (or conveying that idea) like “you always ….” or “you never…” because, by doing that, I am questioning her as a person and I am implying that she is someone who always….or never…. and, therefore, I try to be specific.
For example, instead of saying “you never hug me when I come home” or “when I come home and you don’t hug me…“, I say “when I came home yesterday and you didn’t hug me I felt….”. This way I avoid accusing her that she always….or that she never….
- Never question your partner as a person or the relationship itself
I also remind myself who she is as a person and that she is more than her behavior.
Somewhere along the line I decided to be in this relationship because, evidently, I fell in love with who she is as a person.
The problem is that many of us, when we are upset, tend to forget who our spouse is and the reason why we entered the relationship in the first place and question who our spouse is, her motives and the essence of the relationship, and I used to fall into this trap too.
So, what I have learned is to say something along the lines of “I know you love me” and then I go on communicating my needs or feelings in the following way “…I just want to tell you that when I came home yesterday (not you always/never) I felt (not you made me feel)…..” or something along the lines of “…I felt as if you….and I know this is not true because I know who you are“.
- Use “and” instead of “but”
Another important thing I have learned by reading books on relationships is to replace “but” with “and”.
Why is this important?
If I say for example “I know you love me but when you….I felt…” I am kind of contradicting what I just said, namely “I know you love me”.
It is way more effective to say something like “I know you love me and ….” which kind of conveys the idea that “I know you love me and I would feel even more loved if….”.
Learning how to communicate my feelings and upsets and speak my truth in a way that creates bridges rather than walls has been a huge game changer for my relationship and I believe that if more people studied this kind of information and read books on relationships, and made an earnest effort to apply the suggestions contained in those books, there would be way less broken marriages.