Effective communication alone isn’t enough, explains Loteanu. When you’re talking to your partner about your needs, be specific, she says.
For example, telling your partner “I need more help with the baby,” leaves your needs open to interpretation, Loteanu explains.
Instead, ask him for something that will fulfill a specific need or desire, she advises.
For example, you might ask instead: “I need two additional hours to sleep in the morning. How can you help me with this?” says Loteanu.
This specifies a problem and gives him an opportunity to think of solutions, she explains.
Create a schedule
Once you’ve listened to each other’s specific needs, work out a plan you both agree on.
For instance, Loteanu needed more time to work on her blog, so she explained to her husband that she needed him to watch their son in the evenings. He was reluctant, she says, because he was exhausted from working all day. So they created a set time for when he could help her, she says.
“We agreed on a weekly schedule with days when I work and days for when he has some spare time for his hobbies, and so on,” she says. “So we found a balance that is working great for both of us.”
Sit down and talk about it
Couples can prevent fights before they happen by scheduling judgment-free talking sessions, according to Loteanu. Sit down with your partner once a week or more. This gives you a chance to vent about your feelings without blaming each other.
The blogger calls these sessions “listening partnerships.”
“It’s a way to talk with a partner about frustrations and the partner just listens without judgment, without trying to offer a solution,” she says.
During their sessions, Loteanu says, she tells her husband how she feels without judging him or complaining, and he does the same.
“It works very well because after this kind of listening partnership, I feel calm, I feel in a positive mood again, and the same for him,” she says.
Couples who are trying effective communication for the first time may take a while to adjust, explains Loteanu.
“It’s very difficult to make the shift when you are used to getting angry,” she says.
To make it happen, she says, you both need to make a promise to stay committed.
“For example, in our case, as we practiced this approach over and over again, we started to use it naturally instead of fighting, so now it’s easy for us, but it wasn’t easy at the beginning,” says Loteanu. “We needed to make a commitment to make it work.”
How to use effective communication
- Move from anger to empathy: Also known as non-violent communication, “effective communication” involves resolving frustrations with empathy instead of anger. The method involves switching the focus from your partner to yourself.
- Be precise: When using effective communication with your partner, be specific about what you need.
- Schedule it: Once you’ve listened to each other, work out a plan you both agree on for how you are going to meet each other’s specific needs. You and your partner can prevent arguments before they happen by scheduling weekly listening sessions. During these sessions, simply talk and listen to each other without judgment or blame. Afterwards, you’ll both feel less angry and more relaxed.
NEXT: Why a "good enough" relationship is one that can last a lifetime
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