Remember these three words: BEHAVIOR IS COMMUNICATION
- Does your partner go silent during a tough discussion?
- Does your partner’s tone change when having certain conversations?
- Does your partner get emotional when you respond in certain ways?
- Does your partner get defensive when you bring up a complaint?
- Does your partner reject your bids for affection?
The thing is that behavior is usually communicating something that your partner’s words aren’t.
So the question is, are you paying attention to what his/her behavior is telling you?
When you are baffled by a repeated behavioral response do the following 3 things:
NOTICE THE BEHAVIOR.
Just make a simple observational statement. For example,
“I notice that when I say x, you get really defensive. Can you tell me what that stirs up in you?”
IMAGINE THEIR PERSPECTIVE.
Imagine you are in their shoes. What does it feel like to be your partner in that moment, can you respond in a way that shows you get it?!
On the flip side, what behavior do you use to communicate? Can this help you gain some insight into what may be going on with your partner?
ADDRESS THE EMOTION.
When all else fails go toward the emotion and address it directly.
Something like, “I sense you are annoyed, when I say x.” or “It seems like what I said really hurt you.”
Then sit back and listen.
These three simple steps can go a long way to helping solve some of the miscommunications that so often happen between couples.