Best Way to Talk About Problems with your Partner

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By Pure Matrimony -

What is the Best Way to Talk About Problems with your Partner?

When problems arise in a relationship, couples are often told they need to “communicate” – or talk to each other.

In many cases, however, couples do not know how to talk about problems and communication only makes the situation worse.

For the most part, there are two basic ways of talking about problems: Direct Accusation versus Problem Identification (described below). Unfortunately, most couples use Direct Accusation rather than Problem Identification when trying to resolve conflict.

The idea that Problem Identification is a better way of solving problems draws upon Gibb’s work on defensive communication and Cupach and Canary’s work on conflict management. Cupach and Canary’s book is a great resource for dealing with conflict management.

Direct Accusation – Focus on Partner’s Behavior

When upset or angry, many people confront their spouses by focusing on their partner’s behavior. These accusations can be made directly “I am upset because you…” or even in the form of a question “why did you…?”

The motivation behind making such accusations is typically to change a spouse’s or partner’s behavior. People believe that if they get upset and point out their partner’s mistakes, things will change. This rarely works.

If you accuse a partner of wrongdoing, partners typically:

•get defensive – fight back or withdraw (stop listening)
•offer an (insincere) apology designed to stop your attack
•hide and conceal similar behavior in the future
The long term outcome of directly confronting a partner is:

•increased distance
•less understanding and greater dissatisfaction
•the lack of a genuine resolution
•increased future conflict
A more effective approach involves focusing on one’s feelings, not a partner’s behavior.

Problem Identification – Focus on One’s Feelings

A better way to resolve relationship problems involves focusing on one’s feelings, rather than blaming a partner for what happened (even if, your partner deserves blame).

It is easier for a partner or spouse to hear what you have to say when you focus on your own feelings and not dwell on his or her mistakes. For example, if your spouse has a habit of coming home late – rather than make a direct accusation – “I hate when you’re so late – why do you do that?” – it helps if you can focus on your feelings instead “I am feeling sad and a little frustrated. I sometimes feel lonely when you are not home.”

When trying to discuss a problem – it’s important not to assign blame. Even saying something as simple as “It makes me feel uncomfortable…” can come across as an accusation – leading to a defensive response. Phrasing a concern as “I feel” rather than “It makes…” is a more effective way of solving problems.

Your motivation for dealing with problems this way should be to get your partner to hear what you have to say. If you can get your partner to understand your point of view, you are much more likely to create a meaningful and lasting resolution.

By focusing on your feelings instead of your spouse’s behavior, partners are more likely to:

•listen to what you have to say
•empathize with your position
•discuss the problem in a constructive manner
And there are many benefits of approaching relationship problems with this way:

•increased closeness, satisfaction and understanding
•greater potential for resolution and change
•less future conflict
Simply put, directly confronting a partner often leads to greater resistance, more conflict and deception. Of course, it is easier to get angry and make accusations, but doing so rarely leads positive, long term outcomes.

6 Comments to Best Way to Talk About Problems with your Partner

  1. This is a nice write up,may Almighty Allah increase the writer in knowledge.Baraka lahu fihi

    • Sirajudeen Ahmed

      This is a beautiful article may Allah bestow more knowledge and wisdom to you. Jazakhal kheiru

  2. Salam.jazakallahu khairan kathira for the good article. I would to request in the normal issues that always challenge couple relationship.wassalam

  3. 3 C’s communication: Clear – the speaker’s message is clearly received and understood by the listener; Compact – not being wordy and verbose, the message is spoken without winding route; Concise – the message communicated is accurate, that is, it has true facts.

    So, practice, practice, and practice.

    Sokool’s wife: Hey sokool, why are you staring at me?
    Sokool: Because you are an Angel in disguise whose eyes sparkle like pearls, whose complexion radiates the nour of piety, and whose stature I would love to fall in love with.

    Is it Clear, Compact, and Concise??? have fun!

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