How to Communicate in Relationships

Healthy Communication Skills:

When it feels like all you and your partner do is argue, it can feel helpless.   Healthy communication skills may help you to maintain openness and emotional intimacy when trying to have an emotionally charged conversation. Avoiding conflict creates an inner conflict and promotes distance between you and your partner. It is extremely important to remember to speak with respect to your partner.  No one wants to be parented by their partner. For the person receiving the message it’s belittling and they hear the message that they don’t have it together, which can feel deflating.

So what do you do?

One thing I want to tell you is that speaking with aggression in your voice is destructive. Remember your goal is to take care of yourself and the relationship. When you speak to your partner with gentleness and respect the person will have the opportunity to become emotionally closer to you.  If you speak in an angry or disrespectful manner, there will be no opportunity for closeness, as everyone’s defenses will rise up.  However, the following is a skill called the three part message, will help you begin to talk about difficult issues while maintaining an atmosphere of love and respect for both you and your partner.

Here are the three parts of healthy communication:

  • Part one: Speak about what is hurting you. It goes something like this… “When you don’t call me when you are coming home late”… Simply put, describe what is bothering without any added fluff, just the facts.
  • Part two: Describe what feelings you have about the behavior in a non-confrontational manner. For example, “I feel afraid that something has happened to you and sometimes I feel disregarded.” It is important to not express the feeling of anger, instead go deeper to what hurt is under your anger.
  • Part three: Express the consequence that happens as a result of the behavior. For instance, you might end by saying “and then I want to stay away from you.”

So to put all together the three part message may go like this: “When you don’t call me when you’re going to be home late, I feel afraid something has happened to you and I feel disregarded. When this happens, I want to stay away from you.”

When you voice your concerns in the three-part message, you are respectful of yourself and your partner. If you feel stuck and unable to speak your voice well, give me a call, I would love to help you learn to communicate in ways that benefit both you and your relationships.

“The most functional way to regulate difficult emotions in love relationships is to share them.”
― Sue Johnson, Love Sense: The Revolutionary New Science of Romantic Relationships

Do you live the Hanford or Visalia California area? Call me to set up a therapy appointment today!

Debra Schmitt, ACSW

Reno NV Therapist / California Teletherapy

Call: 559-697-5045

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