When you’re in a relationship with another person and you spend all, or most, of your time with that person, there are going to be things about them that you don’t like. In fact, they may even have some quirks that drive you absolutely insane!
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could bring up those concerns without it sounding like you’re nagging and without it turning into a full blown argument?
Here are some really great tips and suggestions that will help you talk about the things that drive you crazy without offending your partner and ruining a perfectly good day.
How to Resolve Difficulties Without Making Your Partner Wrong
by Marianne Torrence, Trainer and Facilitator
You’ve read all about the #1 relationship mistake – putdowns or making your partner feel wrong or belittled.
It’s pretty obvious that is not going to help a relationship, but what happens if your partner is doing something that really upsets you and they have no idea that it’s happening? Do you have to just put up with it and keep quiet?
After all, if you mention it it’s going to seem like a putdown, right?
Well, actually, not necessarily. This is where you have to learn some skills, how to introduce the subject, warn your partner that there’s something that’s on your mind, and ask for them to be able to hear you out, if possible without reacting.
Sound like a tall order, right? Maybe. A lot of this depends on your partner’s self-esteem and ability to understand that YOU having a problem with something they are doing doesn’t mean they are wrong for doing it. It simply means that YOU have a problem with it. Period.
So another point – if you have managed to bring up this undisclosed issue and get it off your chest without causing an upset, it’s wise to not then get into trying to get them to change it. Because often just the fact of communicating it and getting it heard, understood and acknowledged can not only make it less of an upset or concern for you, but may bring about in your partner a willingness to change whatever it is or at least consider it. Especially if they don’t feel put down by the way you brought it up.
Obviously a lot depends on the magnitude of what your partner was doing that was getting you upset. There’s a fairly substantial difference between leaving the cap off the toothpaste and spending every night at the pub with the boys.
There is also a major distinction between complaining about something constantly – a.k.a. nagging – and bringing it up once as an issue to be communicated and looked at.
The fundamental of being able to deal with these issues is to establish some procedures and agreements for communicating about potentially disturbing or “hot” topics. One of the best ways to do this is to create a “frame” or “introduction” to be used to signal you have an issue to discuss that may be challenging or difficult to face.
Phrases that can work can go something like this…
“Have you got some time to talk about something that’s been on my mind?”
“I have something that’s been bothering me and I would like to be able to talk about it to you without making you feel wrong. Do you feel up to listening right now?”
When you communicate the upset, take responsibility for it by phrasing it from your own perspective, not directed at your partner. E.g. “I find that I feel upset when I see you _________”, “My feelings get hurt when I notice ________ .” “It’s been seeming to me like you tend to ignore our daughter when she tries to tell you something, and I’d like to know if you feel that is happening, maybe you can help me understand what you feel is going on.”
Now, a lot of this depends on what sort of person your partner is. If you are with someone who under no circumstances can entertain the slightest hint that anything they do could possibly be improved, or is anything less than perfect, well, you’ve got troubles. (It is always EXTREMELY smart to make sure before you get into a relationship that the someone you have got your eye on is actually someone who is willing to correct mistakes and learn from them, and understands that no one does anything perfectly the first time.)
But if you have a reasonably confident well-balanced partner you should find no difficulty in establishing some ground rules as above to allow you to communicate about differences in viewpoint without starting a war. Just make sure it starts with an agreed on frame of reference so your partner is aware it’s “sort-out time” coming up.
And as much as possible make sure they are in a position to give you their undivided attention, with sufficient time to complete the discussion, before you launch into it. Five minutes before you leave to go to a party is probably not a good time!
Remember one of the vital points on this, when discussing your issue, leave out the word “you” as much as possible. Keep it to how YOU feel about whatever it is. Not what they did or said but the reaction of feeling you had about it. The word “you” can very easily sound accusative and become accusative.
And be as specific as possible about what is upsetting you. “I feel upset because you always burn the dinner” is not workable if it’s an exaggeration and therefore untrue! “I got upset when you burned the dinner twice last week and I wondered if there’s some way I can help you so that doesn’t happen” would provoke less reaction than the first statement.
Practice this if you need to. Even in front of the mirror. If you have old habits maybe ingrained from copying parents or from earlier relationships it may take some work – but it’s worth it –much less stressful!
There’s another much deeper secret about all this but it will have to wait for another article, this is enough for now.
Marianne Torrence is a clearing facilitator, personal development specialist and SuperTeaching trainer, providing in-depth and highly effective techniques and systems to “clear out your mental closets”; involving procedures which substantially reduce stress.
With 35 years of experience, Marianne delivers over 40 different programs covering a wide variety of issues people have such as unwanted limiting beliefs, removal of negative energy from traumatic incidents, relationship difficulties, communication ability enhancement, personal integrity makeover, attitude transformation, and bettering communication with their bodies.