We’ve all heard the saying, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” Perhaps nowhere does that become more clear than with our spouses and partners. Living with someone day in and day out and having normal differences of opinion can lead to frustration. In addition, intimate love relationship can trigger our unmet needs from childhood that we bring into our adult lives. This article discusses how to get better at communicating with your partner when you are frustrated and want things to change.
Explore Your Feelings First
- Before you talk to your partner about what is frustrating you, consider that some of your frustration is based on your own unresolved hurts, wounds, and experiences. Exploring your own feelings before confronting your partner’s behavior can reduce your frustration and provide clarity.
- Take time to notice your reactions to your partner’s behavior. If you think you could be overreacting, take time to explore your feelings.
- Ask yourself if this situation reminds you of something or someone from your past. If it does, communicating about them with a trusted friend or your therapist before asking your partner to change.
How To Ask for Change
- Resist the impulse to criticize! Instead, use your energy to request a positive behavior
- State clearly what you want rather than what you don’t want. Try “It would mean a
lot to me if you would…” rather than “I hate it when you…”
- Confront behavior you don’t want with a specific description, followed by your feelings
about it. Follow up with a request for behavior you do want. It is more helpful to describe behavior than the person. For example, “I don’t like when you are late and don’t call,” rather than, “You are so inconsiderate.”
- Use “I” language. Use statements that begin with, “I want…,” “I feel…,” and “I need…”
If these steps don’t help, you notice you feel a chronic sense of frustration or hear yourself thinking “I don’t know how much longer I can take this, ask for help. We can’t always solve our problems by ourselves. Furthermore, seeking professional help is not a sign that you are heading for divorce or break up. It may actually be the step that saves your relationship.
For more tips on communicating with your partner, check out this book.
All relationships take work, and sometimes getting professional help is the best way to prevent insurmountable problems. If you would like help with your relationship, contact us, we can help.