Couples who come to see me in the office often say “We need to work on communication!’’ I think they mean, “Could you please help this person understand me better and see it my way (this last part is often unconscious).”
Most of us feel driven to couple in some kind of way, don’t we? Why do we do that? Is there something special about 2 (other than the obvious male/female procreation?) Why not 3 of us? Why is three a crowd? We wouldn’t have nearly as many interesting songs, plays, books, or movies, without the perpetual interloper, would we?
Do we couple up because we desparately want to be understood and completed by another person?
Who doesn’t want to be understood? Who doesn’t want life to go the way we think it should?
And why do we often pick a person so completely different from us–often opposite in every way? Is it because we are expecting him or her to fill in all the gaps for us . . . of belonging and mattering?
What a gargantuan undertaking it is for two humans with different preconceptions of what coupledom should be like to try to “communicate” which I’ve found usually consists of trying to convince the other that their way is the right way–me included.
If you are going to couple up, and I know most of us have or will in some way from time to time, asking for what you want from the other person is the polite and courageous thing to do.
But what if you have no idea what you want exactly, except that your partner should make you feel loved, important, secure, sexy, smart, successful, likable, happy, excited and content. That’s not asking for too much is it?
Or you think you know exactly what you want but you don’t know the right words to explain it without getting the other part of the couple all riled up.
And you know you need to unravel the ever-present: “Are you thinking what I think you think I’m thinking? This can be emotional. And as for all things emotional
1. Focus on solutions instead of problems.
2. Use love to sift what you want to say: words, tone, and gestures that are most likely to build a path of love between yourself and your partner.
And 3 tips to create more helpful paths of love:
- You statements are best reserved for the positive like I love you. Say this: “When I cook I would like a break from the dishes. Would you help?” instead of “You always want me to do the dishes even when I cook!”
- Stay in the present with statements or requests ─ try not to “throw the kitchen sink” of past misdeeds
- Avoid using words like never and always! They infect the present moment with the power of your past disappointments.