BLOG: A MUST IN A THRIVING RELATIONSHIP
The next key is so very basic to intimate communication, yet it is perhaps one of the hardest things many couples face.
Key #3-Tell the truth about your feelings without any blame or judgment.
Often we are taught to avoid conflict or tell “little white lies”. That was the message I received growing up. Hold you tongue and keep the peace. If you must say something then water it down so no one will be upset, especially with you. My parents rarely argued, yet there was often tension in the house because of unspoken, unresolved issues.
We know that resentment builds when we fail to tell the truth.
We end up resenting them or avoiding them when it is our own behavior that is causing part of the problem. Worse yet, nothing gets resolved. We often act out in passive-aggressive behavior or in other ways. Stuffing our feelings can also create depression. When we avoid sharing feelings it is not respecting our partner or ourselves.
It’s Your Fault! You Make Me So Mad and I wish YOU Would Change Your Behavior.
The flip side of avoidance and little white lies is hitting our partner over the head (not literally) with our “truths” when they are no more than complaints and blame statements. This creates more of a wedge, yet I imagine that many readers have found themselves in this blame game at some point. I certainty have been there. AKA projections, this type of verbal combat has everyone on the defensive and no one wins.
If you find yourself locked into either of these patterns realize that awareness is the first ingredient for change. Just notice this and be patient with each other. After all, there is a high likelihood that whatever you are experiencing is what you witnessed growing up. Now you have an opportunity to do something different. So congratulate yourself on your growing awareness and willingness.
In order to be respectful, we must start with ourselves.
Self-disclosure and telling the truth are acts of self-respect and love. When we speak openly and honestly about what is dear to us, without making our partner wrong or bad, we stand a greater chance that they may listen.
In any relationship, both individuals have equal parts of responsibility for what is created. Therefore, at any time, either person in the relationship can make a move for the sake of change. This cannot be dependent upon what the other does (or doesn’t do). When we are waiting for our partner’s agreement nothing changes and we repeat unwanted communication patterns.
Here are a few basics that we often forget:
Shovel while the piles are small – When we have small issues we must be willing to discuss them before they grow into huge piles that often send us into the “fight or flight” mode.
We must be aware of our partner’s state of mind and willingness to listen. Make sure when talking to your partner he/she is available and agrees to talk. Often we bombard them and they may “shut down” or get defensive.
Remember to make “I” statements speaking calmly about how you feel without blame. If you are charged up it is likely that your partner will be as well.
Sometimes, if things have piled up and gone unsaid for a long time, you may need professional help to share sensitive information. This is a sign of strength when reaching out for help. Couples who are too proud or feel they should be able to work things out on their own rarely do. Often things get much worse ending in divorce or a break-up.
Speak your truth with love in mind. When we take responsibility for our feelings and come from place of desiring a solution or just to be heard, our partner may also be willing to share things they have wanted to say before.
If you have a tendency to want to fix things quickly – (you know who you are!) hold off and just practice active listening skills. There is a time for problem solving later; this process is just about being honest with one another without blame or judgment.
Have fun with this practice of telling the truth. It can be a game changer!
When we first started being fully honest and transparent it felt scary and sometimes we felt hurt. That was often when we took the statements or comments as meaning something about us as opposed to our partner’s truth, not necessarily ours.
You Can Do This!
P.S. If you would like more support in applying these principles, give us a call. In between our speaking and coaching engagements, we carve out a few individualized sessions each month. Schedule your appointment here.
To Greater Intimacy Through Truth!