Underlying most complaints is the need for companionship, love, or support. Try to get to the underlying need, not just the complaint. Vague complaints like, “I want you to care more,” or “I want you to want to be with me,” leave no room for specific adjustment. Ask for a concrete solution to the problem like going to a movie together, snuggling on the couch, hugging, touching, or spending time with family. Ask how often your partner needs those things.
Step 4: Make an agreement
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Agree to meet the needs of your partner in a way that feels good to both of you. Again, make the agreement specific and realistic.
Step 5: Taking care of your needs
Through this process of communicating about your partner’s needs, you may find that you have unmet needs as well. After you have resolved your partner’s issue, approach your needs in a way that models healthy communication to your partner.
“When we disagree, I often feel badly about myself when I hear statements like ‘you do this all the time’ or ‘you never do this.’ I would appreciate it in the future if you could just tell me what you are needing from me in the moment rather than telling me that I do things wrong all the time. It just makes me feel [insert feeling].”
“I’m happy to give you the time that you are asking for and agree that we should spend quality time together. I also think that we need time apart and with our friends. Can we have an agreement that on Mondays that I go out with the guys/girls and we do our own thing?”
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Relationships are not easy and communicating is a learned skill. Be patient with yourself and your partner.