Hey everyone, welcome back to Partnership Aligned Podcast! Do you ever feel like you and your partner just have the same argument over and over? Do you feel completely misunderstood? Confused? Do you sometimes walk away from a conversation wishing you had just kept your mouth shut? Today I want to talk to you about the pre-requisites for effective communication with your partner.
Now, I do want to preface by saying that to really fine tune the communication in your partnership, you do need to do some 1:1 work with a professional to dig into the stories and narratives you have about your partner and about communication in general.
The disconnect in your communication most likely has something to do with the way you were brought up and/or the way your parents communicated with each other.
However, there are certain concepts and strategies that will immediately improve your communication even before you dig into that personal stuff. So that’s what I’m going to talk about today.
Ok so here’s the formula for effective communication. It’s honesty + respect +ownership. So let’s talk about each one separately as concepts and then I’ll give you a tactical tip you can try if you hear the one you need most help with
Honesty. Why is it so damn hard, right? And it’s not about lying It’s about fear of vulnerability. A couple weeks ago, I did an episode about this called Stop Avoiding Your Relationship. That will complement this episode nicely so if vulnerability is an issue for you, make sure you go back and listen to that one. I’ll link it for you in the show notes.
The reason honesty is a MUST in effective communication is because nothing you say makes sense or helps anyone if it isn’t honest. The most common form of dishonesty I see among couples is emotional dishonesty. One partner pretends they are ok when they are not. Or the other couple doesn’t speak up at all but then acts out their emotions through stone walling. There are all types of flavors.
But here’s the thing. When you communicate with your partner, if you’re not speaking your truth, then what are you speaking? You’re providing false or incomplete data to your partner and then hoping they crack the code. Doesn’t work so well.
This is where a lot of people pleasing comes in too. People pleasers and peace makers are often dishonest about the depths of their pain, resentment, and discomfort. Many times, it’s because they don’t even realize! People pleasers have trained themselves to put everyone else first so they’re not even in touch with what’s going on within. For more on this topic, listen to episode 10 titled The Price of People Pleasing Your Partner.
To work on honesty, I suggest you start small. Start with something emotionally uncharged. Be honest about what you want to eat for dinner, where you’d like to go on vacation, or what you want to do Saturday night. Logistics and plans usually are a great place to start. People pleasers usually aren’t even being honest about that.
This is also where I’m going to shamelessly plug coaching. I can’t tell you how many times I’m working with a woman who thinks she knows what’s going on for her but then through coaching realizes her pain is really about something else. When we identify the correct source, then we can come up with a plan to rectify it.
Ok now let’s move on to respect. So maybe you’re honest. Maybe you’re brutally honest! But brutal honesty is just honesty without sensitivity. You can tell your partner that you’re feeling insecure without yelling at them. You can tell then you’re feeling lonely without shaming them. You can ask them to help without putting them down.
Honesty comes in when you are figuring out what to say. Respect comes in when you’re figuring out how to say it. Both are important. Honesty without respect sounds like an attack. Respect without honesty is a fake relationship. Neither of those are going to lead to effective communication.
If you’re someone who finds it hard to be respectful during communication, most likely you are struggling with some deep resentment. I suggest listening to episode 34 titled Five Steps to Releasing Resentment.
You could have the best of intentions when going into a conversation with your partner, but if you have unprocessed resentment going on, that’s going to run the show my friend. Because resentment lives in your body. It lives in your tone, your body language, and your attitude.
After you listen to episode 34, send me an email at Elana@nullpartnershipaligned.com and tell me which step you need help with and I’ll provide you with some guidance.
Ok and last but certainly not least is ownership. What I mean here is emotional ownership. This is the opposite of playing the blame game. If you continue to blame your partner for how you’re thinking and feeling – essentially for your experience within the marriage – you are going to find yourself stuck. Shame and blame are the two most stuck emotions there are. They provide no growth and no perspective.
Imagine if every time you communicated with someone, they somehow threw in a jab at you or blamed you for how they’re feeling. This would cause you to shut down and not want to communicate anymore, right? So, if your goal is connection, you’re sabotaging yourself by blaming your partner for how you feel.
And I know some of you are thinking, “but of course they are to blame for how I feel – you should hear how they talk to me!” But what makes my work different from most coaches is that I empower you to take back your own emotional state.
It is your thoughts and interpretations about your partner’s words and actions that cause you to feel how you’re feeling. Owning your contribution to the dynamic is crucial. If you do not own your part – and I promise you, you have one – then you can kiss an improved relationship goodbye. Sorry, but it has to be said. For more on this topic, check out Ep 43 – Is Your Relationship Emotionally Mature?
Here’s a great way to take ownership while still communicating your feelings to your partner. Use the following formula: When you said/did ______, I made it mean ______. This works every time. It’s a beautiful way to own your own interpretation while still sharing your pain with your partner for the sake of intimacy.
When you put these three energies – these three concepts together… honesty, respect, and ownership, you have the foundation for effective communication. So, which one are you lacking? Own it so you can work on it. And again, feel free to email me and let me know which one you’re working on. I’ve created some great resources that I would be happy to share with you.