Communication is a key component to maintaining a healthy and nurturing relationship. One of most common and damaging relationship pitfalls is unheard problem that erodes a relationship over time.
Unfortunately, we are not taught how to get our feelings heard and our needs met without fighting with our partner. When you are spitting mad, taking time to actually sit down and think about what is going on with you is easier said than done. Here are five STEPS that will help you get your feelings heard, your needs met, and lead to constructive problem resolution.
Set Boundaries Think before you act Express Peace Sync up and acknowledge
While you and your partner are in a good place, establish boundaries for resolving a problem. Boundaries are lines that you draw to protect yourself from behavior that you find damaging. These boundaries should be anything that either you or your partner deems destructive to your communication process. It is important to remember that this is not about consensus. If one partner has a boundary of not yelling in anger and other partner has a boundary of no swearing, both boundaries are honored. Not breaking ground rules you both establish for disagreements will go a long way in constructive communication.
2) Think before you act
When you find yourself getting angry or resentful toward your partner, it is easy to slip into blaming. Blaming will only lead to more hurt and anger. Now is time to get clear about how you feel and what you need. Let's use a simplified example to demonstrate process: your partner is two hours late getting home, and hasn’t called.
Our common response when we are angry is to attack. The second person comes in door, screaming starts. This accomplishes little, and will likely lead to an argument. Pretty soon argument escalates to include any sins committed since beginning of relationship. The best option for you before you discuss this with your partner is to get clear about your feelings.
Think about how you feel, and why. Sometimes it helps to write it all out. When you first start this process, let yourself just vent. This helps dissipate some of that energy and helps you move to a place where you can focus on your feelings. Do you feel afraid, alone, unimportant or all three? Get to a place where you can use “I” statements to describe how you feel. "I feel afraid. I feel unimportant." It will probably take some time to get to a place where it is about how you feel, not what person did. Give yourself gift of taking that time.
After you’re clear about how you feel, focus on what you need. What do I need to help me feel better about this situation? How can I get my needs met? Can I meet this need myself or do I need help? "I need for people to call me when they are going to be more than 15 minutes late. "
When you feel focused and centered on your feelings and what you need, take some time to think about why you love person. It is always helpful to remember some of good things a person has added to your life, and will help you come from a loving place when you express your needs.