by Keir Brady | Jan 20, 2021 | Couples
Unrealistic expectations can cause a lot of disappointment in your relationship. When things don’t go the way you think they should, you may want to give up on your partner. Relationships are hard work and rarely live up to the happily ever after depicted in movies. If you believe your relationship is supposed to be perfect, you will probably feel let down at some point. In order to maintain a healthy couple connection, you need to try to avoid these 8 unrealistic expectations that can cause problems in your relationship.
1. You Will Never Fight
Conflict is normal in a relationship. You are different people with different ideas, opinions, needs, and beliefs. Disagreements provide a different perspective and a chance to come up with creative solutions. In fact, if you and your partner never fight, you are probably not discussing important issues. This might appear to be helpful in the short term, but it can leave you feeling disconnected from your partner, and unsafe in your relationship, in the long term. Fighting with your partner gives you a chance to practice agreeing to disagree and repairing your bond. When conflict is accepted as a normal part of your relationship, you can feel safe saying whatever you need to say, which can bring you closer together.
2. You Will Do Everything The Same Way
It is unlikely that you and your partner will do everything the same way. You may have very different parenting styles, daily habits, and cleaning styles. It is also possible that you each show and receive love differently. Expecting your partner to do things exactly the way that you do, can lead to a lot of disappointment in your relationship. This is also true if you feel there is only one right way to do things. Without some flexibility, you will end up nagging, or doing everything yourself. Maybe it’s actually more important that things get done, even if your partner goes about it in a different way.
3. Your Partner Can Read Your Mind
Good relationships require effective communication. Believing that your partner will be able to know what you need without you telling them is unrealistic. You will end up feeling let down and will be constantly disappointed if you expect your partner to read your mind. When your partner doesn’t anticipate your wants and needs, you may begin to believe that they don’t care. This can lead to a lot of problems in your relationship and you could start to resent your partner. If you clearly state your needs, you actually learn a lot more about your partner. When you share your needs, you will learn a lot about your relationship by your partner’s response.
4. You Can Change Your Partner
Although change is inevitable, entering into a relationship with the belief that you can change your partner isn’t healthy. You can only change yourself. Trying to change someone else is disrespectful. While you do need to be able to compromise to have a successful relationship, you also need to accept your partner for who they are. Assuming you can change your partner can lead to resentment. If your partner feels pressure to change things they don’t want to change, they may resent you. When your partner doesn’t change something you want them to, you may resent them. The lack of acceptance in the relationship can also lead to emotional distance.
5. Your Partner Will Never Change
Life is about change and growth. The only way to remain exactly the same is to stay stagnant. You would probably be very concerned if your child didn’t grow and change. However, when your partner changes it can feel unfamiliar and even scary. You may feel as if you no longer know or understand your partner. Change doesn’t have to be scary, it can also be exciting. If there is room in your relationship for healthy growth, your relationship can remain fresh and invigorating long after the honeymoon phase is over.
6. You Should Do Everything Together
Since you and your partner are different people, you most likely have some different interests as well. While doing things together is good for bonding, doing things apart can also enhance your relationship. When you focus on your own interests and goals, you have more things to share with your partner. Focusing on what enriches you as an individual can increase your overall emotional well-being. When you feel content and fulfilled, your positive vibes are felt by your partner as well, which is good for your relationship.
7. Everything Should Be Divided Equally
While this is a good idea in theory, it rarely works in practice. You and your partner have individual strengths and weaknesses that you each bring to the table. If you enjoy cooking, and your schedule permits, you may want to be in charge of meal preparation the majority of the time. Likewise, if your partner works in the home, it may make more sense for them to take on more of the child care responsibilities. If your partner is sick, you will need to contribute more until they are better. Dividing things equally may not make sense at times. The important thing is that things are divided in a way that works for your relationship.
8. You Shouldn’t Need To Work On Your Relationship
Relationships require sustained effort from both people. Life events, misunderstandings, and changing circumstances can complicate your relationship. If your relationship is not a priority, it can be difficult to maintain. Issues in your relationship need to be addressed and you also need to know when to bite your tongue. It can be difficult at times to find the right balance between the two. The decision to work on your relationship together creates a feeling of safety and sense of commitment that can greatly enhance your connection.
Unrealistic expectations can cause a lot of problems in your relationship. If you struggle to maintain more realistic expectations, couples therapy can help. When you are able to lower some of your unrealistic expectations, you can experience a healthier and stronger couple connection.
by Keir Brady | Oct 14, 2020 | Couples
Effective communication requires good listening skills. In order to have a successful relationship you need to be able to communicate in a way that makes your partner feel heard and known. When you actively listen to your partner you can gain a deeper understanding of what matters to them and who they are. By improving your listening skills, you can strengthen your couple connection and intimacy.
Listening is a skill that brings about a deeper level of understanding and a closer connection. It is an important component of effective communication. Listening is not a passive process. It requires you to pay attention and ask for clarification when necessary. Listening necessitates focusing on what is being said as well as how it is spoken. To effectively listen, you need to be engaged and aware of both verbal and non-verbal messages being sent. When you are really listening to your partner you can begin to develop a deeper understanding of who they are. This can improve your overall communication and deepen your intimacy.
1. Listen To Understand
Listening is about gaining a deep understanding of what is being said from your partner’s perspective. If you are busy thinking about what you are going to say, you are not effectively listening. Formulating a response takes your focus off of the speaker. This can cause you to miss information that could be important to your ability to understand what is being communicated. If you are listening to understand instead of listening to respond, your focus will be on the speaker the entire time they are talking. While you may not agree with your partner, at least you will understand them better.
2. Stay Focused
If you want to be a good listener, you need to give your undivided attention to your partner. To do this you will need to minimize distractions. Turn off the television, put down your phone and look at your partner. If you are distracted, not making eye contact, or doing something else, your partner will think you aren’t listening. When you are not focusing on your partner, it sends an indirect message that what they have to say is not that important to you. Instead, create a safe environment where your partner can feel heard, understood, and connected simply by focusing on them and what they are saying.
3. Pay Attention To Non-Verbal Cues
Words are important in communication, but they only convey a part of the message. In order to gain a clearer understanding of what is being communicated, you need to pay attention not only to what is being said, but how it is said. To be a more effective listener, you will want to notice non-verbal cues as well. Body language is another way to communicate. Pay attention to facial expressions, tone of voice, and mannerisms in order to be a better listener. If there is a discrepancy between what is said and how it is said, your partner may not be feeling safe.
4. Reflect Back What You Heard
A good way to let your partner know that you are listening is to reflect back what you hear them say. This reflection is most effective when you are able to share in your own words the meaning that they are trying to express. Reflecting back what you hear helps build trust. When you are able to reflect back what your partner says, they will know that you are paying attention and listening for context as well as content. This will help them feel heard and understood.
5. Empathize And Validate
Effective listening enables you to validate your partner’s feelings and empathize with their experience. Validating your partner’s emotions let’s your partner know that you care about their emotions and inner experience. Empathy helps you attune to their feelings through emotional understanding. When you empathize with your partner and validate their experience, you create a safe environment where they can openly share free of judgment and shame. This can increase your intimate connection.
6. Ask Open-Ended Questions
While it is not helpful to interrupt your partner or offer advice that wasn’t asked for, it can be helpful to ask open-ended questions. Open-ended questions invite the speaker to expand on what they are communicating. Whereas closed-ended questions often only require a one word answer, open-ended questions create an opportunity for further discussion. Instead of asking Are you upset? You could gain a deeper understanding by asking How are you feeling? This communicates to your partner that you are listening and are interested in hearing more in order to really understand.
7. Summarize Your Understanding
Summarizing what your partner said at the end of the conversation shows them that you were listening to understand them. This is a great way to let your partner know that you are paying attention to both content and context. If you missed anything, your partner can clarify what they actually meant. Your couple connection can deepen when your partner feels you are listening.
The next time you have a discussion with your partner, try to actively listen to them. If you struggle to communicate effectively as a couple, counseling can help. When your partner feels heard and understood, the quality of your relationship will improve.
by Keir Brady | Sep 2, 2020 | Couples
While aggressive behavior is quite obvious and easily noticed, passive-aggressive behavior can be hard to spot. Passive-aggression is a manipulative form of aggression that is not direct and is easily denied. It’s an indirect way of dealing with anger that often leads to a lot of trouble in your partnership. If passive-aggressive behavior becomes a pattern, it can have a negative impact on your ability to maintain a healthy relationship.
What Is Passive-Aggressive Behavior
Passive-aggressive behavior is an indirect way of expressing negative emotions where you do not communicate them directly. Instead of being overt about your anger or needs, you express them in a very passive manner. There is definitely hostility in this type of behavior, although it is often covert. For example, if your normally punctual spouse is late whenever you pick the movie, they might be acting passive-aggressively. When you confront them, they deny doing this on purpose and offer plausible reasons as to why they were late. While it seems like they’re doing this on purpose, it can be difficult to tell as it is very subtle. Passive-aggressive behavior can have a very negative impact on your relationship.
How To Recognize Passive-Aggressive Behavior
Passive-aggressivion can be difficult to recognize at times. The main way to recognize this behavior is by the uneasy feeling you get when someone is being passive-aggressive. The underlying hostility is pretty obvious and is easy to feel. Common passive-aggressive behaviors include biting sarcasm, backhanded compliments, and sulking. Giving the silent treatment and pretending everything is fine when it clearly isn’t are passive-aggressive behaviors. Procrastinating, or failing to appropriately finish agreed upon tasks are other ways that passive-aggressiveness can occur in your relationship. Those who avoid conflict, have people-pleasing tendencies, and have difficulty expressing their needs, can use passive-aggressive behavior.
Why Engage In Passive-Aggressive Behavior
While everyone uses passive-aggressive behavior at times, it’s harmful to your relationship when this type of behavior occurs often. This is a learned behavior that can be traced back to prior relationships or even childhood. If as a child you witnessed others using passive-aggressive tactics, you may be more likely to use them yourself. If normal expressions of anger aren’t tolerated by an abusive parent, it feels safer to express this emotion indirectly. Likewise, if as a child you witnessed your caregiver’s explosive anger, you may fear anger in others and avoid conflict. If you are afraid of anger, or believe it isn’t appropriate, you may not express it in a healthy way. Passive-aggressive behavior is also associated with anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and ADHD.
How Passive-Aggressive Behavior Can Harm Your Relationship
Passive-aggressive behavior can have a negative impact on your relationship. Since this behavior is subtle, it can be difficult to know when there are serious issues in your relationship. When you do not share your concerns openly, you can’t find a resolution. If you act in covert ways instead of openly expressing your needs and disappointments, it’s confusing to your partner. When anger is expressed in a healthy way, you can find a resolution and get closure. If instead, you use passive-aggressive tactics, the anger is there and often felt, but it’s just under the surface. This keeps it from being openly discussed and worked through and creates a lot of tension in your relationship. It’s hard to feel close to your partner when they aren’t opening up.
What You Can Do If You Are Being Passive-Aggressive
Once you recognize passive-aggressive behavior in yourself, there are things you can do to stop it. First, you will want to notice how you are feeling when you start acting in passive-aggressive ways. Allow yourself to feel these feelings along with your fear of confrontation. Figure out what your passive-aggressiveness is trying to accomplish, and share this with your partner. For instance, tell your partner you don’t like romantic comedies so you procrastinate when they choose this type of movie and this is why you are late. Instead of using passive-aggressive behavior, establish clear boundaries. Practice being assertive and sharing your feelings and needs with your partner. You can start slow and share unimportant things at first. As you become comfortable opening up to your partner and being direct, you can start discussing important issues as well.
What You Can Do If Your Partner Is Being Passive-Aggressive
If your partner has a pattern of acting in passive-aggressive ways, there are things you can try that might help. Don’t give in to these tactics, take on their responsibilities, or use passive-aggressive behavior yourself. Calling your partner out on their behavior could backfire and create a parent/child relationship dynamic and increase this behavior. However, sharing your own experience can help. Use “I” statements to share what it’s like for you when your partner is using passive-aggressive behavior. Explain how it impacts your relationship, and what you would like instead. Establish clear boundaries in your relationship. Create a safe environment where you can each state your feelings and concerns directly. Respond to your partner’s directness with empathy and compassion, not judgment and criticism. Work together to come up with effective solutions. When directness is expected and accepted, passive-aggressive behavior patterns can change.
Passive-aggressive behavior can cause a lot of problems in your relationship. When you don’t address your needs and feelings of anger directly, it’s hard to find a resolution. If passive-aggressive behavior is an ongoing problem in your relationship, therapy can help. Learning to be more assertive and directly share your needs can help you create and sustain a healthy fulfilling relationship.
by Keir Brady | Aug 5, 2020 | Couples
Empaths find meaningful relationships to be extremely important. However, it can be difficult for an empath to navigate the give and take required to maintain a fulfilling relationship. In order to have a successful relationship as an empath, adjustments are needed. Below are some tips you can use as an empath to create and sustain a committed, healthy relationship.
1. Practice Self-Care
Being an empath makes you more aware of the emotions of others. You are also more likely to absorb the feelings of others, especially those of your partner. In order to keep yourself from becoming overwhelmed by this, you will need to practice self-care. Make sure you eat nutritious food on a regular basis, exercise daily, and get enough good quality sleep. Spend time doing the things that make you feel pampered and cared for. If you enjoy reading, taking a bath, or listening to music, spend time doing these things. If you begin to feel overwhelmed by the vibes you are picking up from your partner, try practicing mindfulness and meditation. As you pay more attention to your own needs, you can find it easier to separate your own feelings from the negative emotions you are absorbing from your partner.
2. Spend Time Alone
If you are an empath, you will probably need to spend some time alone. Since you can pick up a lot from your environment and from other people, you can easily become overstimulated. Therefore, you will need to spend time separating your own feelings from the feelings of others. Spending time alone in a quiet environment can help you do this. Alone time also allows you to decompress and calm down your highly active central nervous system. When you have alone time, you can restore your energy and prepare for spending time with others. Let your partner know that you need to spend some time alone and why. This way the time you spend together can be more meaningful.
3. Know Yourself
As an empath, you may have difficulty determining your own wants and needs from that of your partner. During your alone time, spend some time getting to know yourself. Take some time to figure out what is important to you and why. Check in with your own feelings to figure out when changes need to be made. Get to know the things you want and need in your relationship so you can establish effective boundaries. Knowing what your needs are in your relationship is an important step in getting your needs met. This way you can have a more fulfilling relationship.
4. Establish Clear Boundaries
In order to maintain a healthy relationship, you will need to establish clear boundaries. Boundaries are limits you put in place to protect your physical and emotional well-being. For a boundary to be effective, it needs to be clearly stated. You will want to explain why it is important and have consequences if it is not followed. For instance, if your partner calls you names when you argue and it hurts you, a boundary is needed. You can tell them that it hurts you so if they call you a name you will warn them the first time and walk away if it continues. Empaths can be people pleasers. Because of this, you may put up with a lot. However, without clear boundaries you can end up in an unfair, or even an abusive relationship.
5. Get Curious
Empaths are more attuned to their partner’s moods. Even a small change in your partner’s behavior, facial expression, or body language is easily noticed. As you perceive a change in your partner, you may also believe you know why this change occurred. Even if you are right, assuming you know everything about what is going on with your partner keeps them from being able to share this from their own perspective. If instead of assuming, you get curious, you can learn more about your partner. This can help open up the lines of communication and bring you closer together.
6. Talk To Your Partner
Spend time talking to your partner. As an empath, you may learn a lot about others through nonverbal communication. While nonverbal communication is important, it is also important to spend time engaging verbally with your partner. You may naturally be a good listener. It will also be important to open up and share with your partner. Sharing your ideas, opinions, and beliefs will help you feel closer to your partner and can benefit your couple connection.
7. Learn To Take Constructive Criticism
As an empath, criticism can be very hard to take. You may take any hint of criticism as an attack and end up taking it very personally. Since you are an empath, relationship criticism can be particularly difficult. In a relationship, it is important to be able to talk about the things that bother you so you can work through them. If your partner is afraid you will take things as an attack, they may stop bringing up important issues. While these discussions may not be easy, coming to an understanding of what you each need is what will keep your relationship strong and healthy.
8. Spend Time Together
Deep meaningful relationships are very important to empaths. It is probably hard for you to make small talk and deal with superficial connections. However, you may expect your feelings and your partner’s feelings to remain strong without putting in a lot of effort. Especially since you value your alone time. Spending time with your partner and having fun together are important components of a healthy relationship. Doing this helps you bond through experiences as well as on a deeper level. This can bring you closer together and keep your couple relationship strong.
9. Share Your Fears
Since you are an empath, you find it easy to pick up on other people’s feelings. Sometimes, it’s hard to differentiate between your own feelings and the feelings of someone else. You may experience a lot of uncomfortable emotions from yourself and others that can be very difficult to sort out. It’s probably common for you to know when something feels off, or is not safe. This can cause a lot of fear, anxiety, and even depression. Keeping everything inside can cause you to feel more confused. If instead you share your fears with your partner, you can sort these things out easier. Sharing your fears with your partner will help you feel better and will bring you closer together.
Relationships require effort. If you are an empath, it may be easy to give in your relationship. However, it is also important for your needs to be met as well. You can use the above tips to help you establish a fulfilling and healthy relationship with your partner. If you continue to struggle to maintain a satisfying relationship, couples counseling can help. When you put in the effort, your relationship can thrive.
by Keir Brady | Apr 15, 2020 | Couples
As everyone adjusts to spending more time at home, marriages are being impacted. While it might initially be nice to spend time with your spouse, with no end in sight, it can eventually become challenging. In order to keep the current situation from having a negative impact on your relationship, adjustments will be needed. Below are some things you can try to help your marriage survive the coronavirus.
1. Discuss Expectations
During this time, schedules may be very different than what you are used to. It will be important to be clear about your needs and expectations. Expectations surrounding extra chores, childcare, work, personal needs, couple time, and family time should be discussed. When you don’t talk about these things, you may feel you are doing most of the work, and your spouse can feel the same way, which can lead to resentment. Talking about these things can allow you to come up with a schedule and plan that works for both of you and takes everyone’s needs into consideration, which is good for your marriage. With everyone home all of the time now, there is probably more cooking, cleaning, and other chores to manage. It is easy to let these extra tasks become a point of contention if you don’t share your needs and expectations with your partner. By discussing these things, stating your needs, and coming up with workable solutions, you can keep your relationship and household running smoothly.
2. Create Boundaries
Since isolating with your partner is a new experience, you will need to create some boundaries so your marriage can survive. If you are both working from home, it will be important to clearly define your work needs. For instance, if you have a conference call from 10-12, you can let your spouse know that you will need privacy during this time. If they need something, you will not be able to respond until after 12. For a boundary to be effective, you must clearly state what you expect as well as the consequences for breaking the boundary. Boundaries help your marriage remain strong as you are clear with your needs. As everyone adjusts to the situation, it will become clear where boundaries are needed in order to keep the peace.
3. Discuss Worries
Being able to lean on your partner during times of trouble can help you safe and secure in your marriage. When you share your worries and concerns with your spouse, they are less likely to come out in other ways. While it is normal to be a little short-tempered during times of uncertainty, being more direct about your concerns can keep you from picking fights over small things. You may be experiencing many fears about the coronavirus. Worries related to getting sick, caring for sick family members, financial concerns, job security, and when things will return to normal, may be on your mind. Keeping these things to yourself can increase anxiety related to the coronavirus. Having open discussions with your partner provides a safe environment to share your worries and talk about your concerns. When you feel you can turn to your partner, you will probably feel closer to them.
4. Spend Time Together
While you might feel as though you spend all of your time with your spouse these days, it is still important to spend quality time together. Plan time to spend together and be intentional with what you will do during that time. Make sure you let your partner know when you would like to spend time with them and what you want to do during that time. You can plan a date night in. Cooking dinner together, playing a game, or discussing future plans and dreams are some ways to spend time together. Don’t forget about emotional and sexual intimacy, which are important for a healthy marriage. Touch and affection can lower anxiety and help keep your connection strong.
5. Spend Time Alone
Although spending time together is important, so is spending time alone. Too much togetherness can be hard on your relationship. Make sure you are each spending time alone as well. Alone time is for working on your individual hobbies and interests. It’s time for you to relax and recharge. You can use this time to process your feelings, fears and concerns individually. This gives you time away from each other and away from work where you are focused on your individual needs and wants. When you have time alone to focus on yourself, you will be more likely to enjoy the time you and your spouse spend together.
6. Fight Fair
Disagreements and fights with your spouse are bound to occur with all of the forced togetherness, uncertainty and fear. When an argument does happen, it’s important to fight fair. In order to fight fair, you want to make sure you stick to the current topic and not bring up things from the past. Use effective communication skills. This means you use “I” statements, your partner reflects back what they hear you say, and you have a chance to clarify if needed. Agree to take a time out if things become too heated, or if name calling or belittling occurs. When you take a time out and separate for a while to calm down, make sure you state a time when you will come back and try again. This way your partner knows that what they have to say is important to you, they just need to adjust how they are saying it.
7. Practice Compassion And Repair
When you argue or disagree with your partner, it’s important to practice compassion and repair so healing can take place. Trying to understand the situation from your partner’s perspective is a good way to practice compassion. You can do things that you know cheer up your partner to help them feel better. Repair is about making things okay between the two of you, even if you are agreeing to disagree. Empathizing with your spouse lets them know that you understand their point of view. A heartfelt apology when needed, given verbally or through actions can help restore the peace. Making up after an argument can help you feel closer to each other.
If the coronavirus quarantine is having a negative impact on your relationship, try the above tips. Couples counseling, either virtually or in person can help if you continue to struggle. Although the current situation can be challenging, with some adjustments your marriage can survive.
by Keir Brady | Feb 19, 2020 | Couples
Sharing things that are upsetting or often lead to conflict in your relationship can be hard. If you are uncomfortable with conflict, you may decide to keep these things to yourself. However, doing this can have a negative impact on your couple intimacy. Although it may not be easy, saying what you need to say, even if it may lead to conflict, is important for a healthy relationship. If you struggle with this, the following tips might make it easier for you to speak up in your relationship.
What Happens When You Don’t Speak Up
When you don’t speak up in your relationship, your couple connection and intimacy can suffer. Bottling up your feelings and needs, can lead to resentment and loneliness in your relationship. Maybe you don’t fight, but it is probably difficult for you to feel known and understood by your partner as well. Your connection can begin to feel superficial. Denying your feelings and needs can lead to an internal struggle that can weaken your self-esteem and lead to symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Why It Can Be Hard To Speak Up
It can be hard to speak up about things that might be bothering you in your relationship. One of the reasons that this might be true, is you may be afraid it will lead to a fight. Although conflict can be good for your relationship and even bring you closer together, it can trigger fears of abandonment. You may have a fear that fighting with your partner will lead to the end of your relationship. Therefore, you might feel as though you have to bite your tongue and keep everything pleasant. The problem with this is that you could end up resenting your partner and feeling disconnected. In order to have a healthy intimate connection, you need to be able to say what’s on your mind. This is true, even if it causes an argument. There are some things you can do to help you speak up in your relationship, even if you are afraid it might lead to conflict.
1. Know Yourself
In order to speak up and say what you need to say in your relationship, you need to know yourself and what’s important to you. Spend time feeling your feelings. Notice your fears and what happens just before you shut down. Be aware of certain triggers that cause you to feel uncomfortable and keep you from speaking up. Write out what you need, why it’s important to you, why it’s hard for you to share, and what makes it easier for you to speak up. When you are clear with what you need to say and why you need to say it, you can devise a plan for how you are going to do it.
2. Know What To Let Go
While it is important to speak up when something is bothering you, it is also helpful to let some things go. Sometimes, if you have been holding back instead of speaking up, you might notice that everything starts to bother you. You want to determine if what is bothering you is something that you need to bring up, or something you can let go. To help you decide this, figure out if it bothers you if others do it, or only when your partner does it. Also, consider if this is an issue your partner needs to change, or if it is your issue. When you can let the unimportant things go, it can be easier to identify the important things that you do need to bring up.
3. Talk About The Little Things
Talk to your partner about the things that are easier for you to discuss. Usually, these are things about your day that have nothing to do with your partner. This helps foster a connection so you will be more comfortable bringing up the things that might lead to conflict. When it is hard for you to speak up for yourself in your relationship, you might start pulling away and stop talking about the unimportant things as well. If you feel disconnected from your partner, it is usually harder to seek them out for conversation. When conversation becomes a habit in your relationship, it will be easier to bring up the things that are bothering you.
4. Have Clear Boundaries
Having clear boundaries with yourself and your partner can make arguments easier to manage. For yourself, have a goal in mind. If you know you need to discuss something your partner said that hurt you, figure out what you want to accomplish. Are you bringing it up so they will be aware it hurts you? Do you want them to stop saying it? With your partner, you can determine when it is hard for you to discuss things and what makes it easier. For example, if you shut down when your partner yells, you may need a boundary around this. Let them know what you need from them and why. If they yell when you are trying to share what is bothering you, give them a warning the first time and walk away for awhile the second time. Let them know when you will come back and try again. When you have boundaries in place, it can make it easier for you to share what is bothering you.
5. Pick A Good Time
Timing can be very important when you need to talk about something that is hard for you. If you try to have this discussion at an inconvenient time, you may not feel heard by your partner. This might make it hard for you to bring up other things that bother you and can cause you to shut down further. If your partner is busy with something, or has other plans, it might not be a good time to talk. Ask your partner if it is a good time to talk. If it isn’t, you can agree on a time that works better. When you know that you will have your partner’s undivided attention, it can be easier for you to speak up.
6. Use Effective Communication Skills
Effective communication skills can help you feel more comfortable sharing with your partner. Use “I” statements instead of “you” statements. When you use “you” statements, your partner can become defensive and it will be hard for them to truly listen to you. When your partner speaks, reflect back what you hear them say. Ask them to do this after you speak as well. This is about active listening. If you are listening so that you can reflect back what they are trying to say, you cannot be focused on preparing your response. After you hear their reflection, you can clarify your message to make sure they understand your position.
Speaking up in your relationship helps foster a deeper bond. If you tried these tips and notice you are still avoiding conflict with your partner, couples counseling can help. When you are able to openly share with your partner, the intimacy in your relationship and your overall well-being can improve.