“Was it something I said?!”
How many times have you noticed a sudden chill in your partner’s mood and wondered if you unintentionally upset or offended him? How often are you left utterly confused about why she’s turned her back to you in bed?
When the one you love closes down and shuts you out, it’s natural to worry that you are (at least partly) the reason why. It feels personal. Sometimes it has nothing to do with you. Your partner’s distance can be about any number of things including:
Stress at work
Tension with other family members or friends
Personal achievement doubts
The disconnection you feel in your relationship may not be about you at all...but, then again, it might be.
It’s always a smart idea to stop the stories that are clouding your mind about why your partner seems uninterested or upset and to get clear. Think about what’s been going on in your relationship lately. Review what you know about what’s been happening in your partner’s career, personal growth and other relationships.
When you think through the facts you have, it could become apparent that you have contributed to the chill in your relationship. What might come as a surprise is that what turned your partner away from you was something that didn’t seem like such a big deal to you.
But it was.
Far too many people continue unhealthy communication habits that they don’t consider to be harmful, even though they are. These people aren’t lying, yelling, name calling or issuing ultimatums to the ones they love...but they are crushing the passion and connection in their relationship.
When these “little” communication behaviors are repeated enough, the effects can be just as BIG and hurtful as the more obvious slights. Clean up the way you talk with your partner and avoid these 4 habits that push your partner away:
It can seem impossible to stop yourself from reminding your partner (for the umpteenth time) to take out the trash or do whatever he or she has promised to do but has yet to followed through with. Your urge to nag probably comes from mistrust that the job will get done-- or that it will be done to your satisfaction.
That message of mistrust comes through loud and clear and it not only turns your partner off, it usually ensures that the job will NOT get done quickly or in the way that you want.
Instead of uttering a reminder-- again-- explore your mistrust. Is it coming from the past (an experience with your partner or with someone else) or is it coming from your beliefs that he or she is incapable or unwilling to do this thing? The impulse to nag eases when you take care of the emotions underneath.
The fast pace of our culture has made many of us so impatient! This leads to rushed conversations where one person (or both) interrupts. Perhaps you interrupt because you’re so excited about a thought that just occurred to you or maybe you interrupt because you’re worried you won’t have a chance to say what you need to say if you don’t.
Either of these may be true, but they don’t support healthy communication or your relationship. When you interrupt, you show that you aren’t really listening or that you don’t care that much about what your partner is sharing. This might not be your intent, but it’s how interrupting feels on the receiving end.
Recognize it when you cut off your partner mid-sentence. Stop and apologize. Take a deep breath, slow down and really focus in on what your partner has to say. If you believe you aren’t getting a chance to talk, ask your partner to give you more opportunities to talk in the conversation.
When your partner comes home after having yet another power struggle with his boss and you are sure you know what will resolve this never-ending misery for him...wait. Your impulse may be to launch into your solution to this problem, but it might hurt far more than it helps.
When you try to fix-- a situation or one of your partner’s flaws-- you send out another “I don’t trust you” message. Even if you believe you are coming from a place of concern and love, it can feel to your partner like an attempt to control and dominate. Meet your partner’s tale of frustration or woe with a question like, “How can I support you?” or “Are you open to hearing a suggestion from me now?” Honor his or her reply.
This communication habit happens first in your mind. It occurs when you “read between the lines” or “interpret” what your partner has said for the “real meaning" and then react to what you assume, instead of to what was actually said.
We all make assumptions, so the key here is to realize what you’re doing and to re-focus yourself on the facts-- the literal words your partner said. Many, many misunderstandings and disappointments can be avoided when you stop operating as if your assumptions are true. If you’re confused ask, “Please help me understand...”
Who says communication with understanding, clarity, compassion and love has to be difficult?! In Magic Relationship Words, we’ve put together powerful words, phrases and sentence-starters that can be used to talk about even the most sensitive subjects with your partner and still keep your connection strong. Find the right words to say at www.magicrelationshipwords.com