Do you find yourself saying the following statements: I hate it when my partner brings up a problem!
Conflict, although difficult, gives us an opportunity to grow and learn about each other. If you view everything your partners bring up as a "problem" then you will handle it as such. You may try to "fix" it, which is often not what your partner wants. Or you may try to defend it, which doesn't go over very well either.
Try to view your partner bringing things up as an assurance that they still care about the relationship, want to attempt to work through things, and are still engaged. Then just try to listen. Often people just want to be heard!
I think it's important to lay out to my partner all of the complaints I have about him or her. Really? If you think you should tell your partner every complaint about them, you and your partner will be very miserable. We are all human and have flaws. If we are in a relationship, particularly living under one roof, we are inevitably going to get on each other's nerves. The sooner you accept that and pick battles, the happier you will be in your relationship.
I state my complaints in a heated manner.
If you bring up your complaints in an angry or shaming manner, your partner will most definitely not hear you. They will be focused on your tone and they will be more concerned with how upset you are rather than focusing on what you are saying. If you are very upset about something, take some time to cool down and take some deep breaths before you talk about it. This will increase your odds of your partner being able to focus on what you are saying and completely hearing you.
I tend to say "You always" or "You never" when discussing my complaints.
I see this all the time with couples. Think of how you feel when you finally remembered to take out the trash only to have your partner say, "You never take out the trash!" It feels defeating and makes you not want to try again. These words are very black and white and shouldn't be used during arguments. People rarely "always" or "never" do something and it leads to defensiveness.
I rarely state my complaints to keep from hurting my spouse.
As much as you don't want to mention every complaint, you also don't want to not talk about things that are bothering you. You just need to pick your battles. If you do have a complaint, talk to your partner about it and let them know how you are feeling. Focus on your feelings about what they are doing and this will help them hear you better. It's important to find a balance in bringing things up. To bring them up all the time or to complain about everything is not a good balance.
Thank you for reading! Tomorrow Joleen will share our last statements that are damaging in communication.
Adapted from Dr. Phil's "Relationship Rescue" seminar 2000
Written by Natalie Chandler
Natalie Chandler, MA, LMHC is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Natalie enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, and couples counseling. We also specialize in family counseling, child, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Westfield, and Zionsville