This more than just talking…
You hear it from advice columns, relationship experts, doctors, therapists, your friends, your parents, and your dog’s hairdresser: the key to a successful relationship is communication. The vast majority of our issues come down to talking our way through spats and silences and figuring out what’s important to each person.
But what does good communication look like in a modern world of scheduling sex, harpsichord lessons, takeout, and that ever-elusive work-life balance? So often we hear that we need to talk about it, but we don’t know how to begin the conversation.
The next time you and your partner are trying to connect, whether it’s during the morning rush or at the end of the long day, take a deep breath and try these tips to get the ball rolling in various situations.
Your life in the bedroom has been less than stellar lately, but you sense he’s embarrassed about it, and you don’t want to press the issue.
Initiating a discussion during non-sexy time
Emotions run high when you try to discuss sensitive issues in the heat of passion, so save your concern for your ice-cream-and-couch time tomorrow night. Instead of turning on the TV, turn to him and say, “I’m concerned about what’s been going on with our sex life lately.”
Keep an open mind and be prepared to listen rather than talk. According to a new study by Superdrug Online Doctor, 80% of men feel comfortable discussing their erections with their significant others. If you start the conversation, chances are good he’ll open up.
Your mother in law’s birthday is tonight. Your spouse asked you to pick up a cake at the bakery, but you completely forgot, and now you have no cake and an angry partner.
Acknowledging their feelings
You may be tempted to get defensive (It’s not my fault, do you know how much I had to do today?!), but that will only aggravate your partner more. Instead, let him know you understand how he feels. Count to ten, and say to him, “You’re angry with me. I forgot to pick up the cake for your mother’s birthday, and you’re upset that we don’t have a dessert now.” Odds are, he’ll calm down.
I know this seems obvious, but it works for me like a charm. By acknowledging your partner’s feelings, you’re telling him that you empathize with what he’s going through, so he won’t feel like he have to defend his position.
You’ve reminded your partner at least ten times that you’re having dinner with Diana and Mark Saturday night, but he just revealed he slipped up and scheduled a game night with the guys for the same time.
Moving past the blame game to find a solution
It’s easy to go around and around with this argument and get nowhere, but do you want to sleep in separate rooms tonight, or do you want a solution? Compose yourself, and say, “Clearly we’ve had a miscommunication here. How can we solve this?” (Or, if it’s already a done deal, “How can we avoid this situation in the future?)
Maybe your hubby can move his game night to next week. Or maybe Mark and Diana can get together earlier in the evening. Whatever you come up with, you’re using your energy to fix the problem at hand instead of giving your partner a tongue lashing that will make him angry as well.
You had to run errands this morning, and you assumed he’d empty the dishwasher and mop the floors–but when you come home, he’s in front of the game, the dishwasher is still full, and the floors are dirty as ever.
Being specific with your requests
You may have noticed the floors and the dishes, but you shouldn’t assume he also did, so be direct. The next time you go out, look him in the eye and say, “Will you please empty the dishwasher and mop the floors while I’m out getting groceries? That would be a huge help.” The more specific you are with your requests, the better; if you just say, “tidy up around here,” he might feel a bit lost. When you’re direct, he knows exactly what you want done and how you want it done.
And if he didn’t do something exactly to your specifications? Don’t make passive-aggressive comments–cut him some slack. At least he tried. If he really screwed up, say, “Thank you for putting the dishes away; I really appreciate it. Next time, would you mind putting the plates back in the cupboard over the sink instead of this one?”
Bio: Laura D. is a Pennsylvania transplant residing in South Florida. She enjoys mayonnaise, proper grammar, and collecting all the flags in the original Assassin’s Creed.
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