communicate with you partner

Back to School Basics: Timeouts

In most relationships, emotions can get real hot real quick. We say something hurtful. Our partner hurls a hurtful attack back. And on it goes. Not only feelings get hurt, but relationships are hurt and foundational trust is ruptured.

A quick, basic strategy to stop hemorrhaging, buy time, and not make things worse, is to establish a safe word. This is a word you say to signifying that you are hitting pause, taking space, and interrupting the hurt spiral. The word can be anything. I had one couple who said "muskrat." It’s hilarious, and because it’s hilarious, it helped diffuse hot conflicts. Hard to yell and laugh at the same time.But lately, I have been a fan of using "ouch" as the diffusing word. It’s a little more accurate, a little more vulnerable and true (often anger is a secondary emotion to hurt), and it can soften the interaction.

From that point, take an hour and reassess. If you're still too heated to talk, say so. "Hey, im not ready. This is important, but I’m still to heated to communicate effectively. Lets check back in in an hour." That second part is important because often one person can feel anxious or abandoned by the space. Or couples can hit pause and not return to the conflict which only leads to festering, undealt-with, emotions. This strategy should be agreed upon ahead of time so that both parties can agree upon the words and the terms and what the intention is behind hitting pause. This may need some experimentation and tweaking as you go, but is worth a try to start to help you get unstuck from ineffective and hurtful communication patterns.

Need help getting started with this practice? Need help in other areas of your relationship? We can help. Call us today and start rebuilding your relationship.



Back to School Basics: Praise your Partner

People respond to praise. People thrive on appreciation and attention. We know this. We practice it freely with pets and kids. We lavish praise when we're smitten with a new love interest. And although we know that it works and makes others feel good,  we often neglect this behavior when in a long term relationship

"If I praise them all the time, it won’t mean much"

"I shouldn't have to praise them, they should just do it because it needs to be done"

"I shouldn't have to praise them, they know I love them."

"I shouldn’t ask for praise, I should be an adult with no needs"

On a behavioral level, praise reinforces behaviors. Want your partner to take out the trash? Ask and then say "thank you". Bonus points for expanding on a "thank you" with feedback on what the behavior shows you about the person's character, how it helps you, or how it makes you happy (thank you. That was so thoughtful of you/ it saved me some time so I could get other things done/ it makes me feel special").

On an attachment level, praise demonstrates appreciation and respect and reassures the other person that they matter. Attachment takes work and maintenance and consistent praise and gratitude helps build that bond and create a sense of safety and connection. This is vital for the health of the relationship. And all it takes is a moment.

You're welcome!



I Go a Bit Crazy When...

...My husband says anything like “I need you to…”  “I want you to…”, pretty much if it doesn’t sound like a request I get irritated.


I think Chad (husband) and I had about a one hour conversation yesterday around the whole subject of making a request vs. making a demand. He honestly can get a little flustered / totally overwhelmed by me and I know this so I try to temper myself. It doesn’t always work, but I try. Yesterday, we had a talk and I literally gave him the words to use with me so that he can get his way. I also told him if he doesn’t know how to approach me, to just say that and I can help out.

Sound stupid? Maybe, but it works. I just expect him to know then I am really asking him to be psychic which will never happen in a million years. So if you are expecting your partner to just KNOW because you have been together for decades, well dream on my friend. You might have to have the same conversation over and over. Lord knows we have. In fact, yesterday I told him I was going to have a laminated cue card made for him. I was joking but I’m also seriously considered it. I think I will do it and wrap a nice bow around it. His brain works differently than mine so I do need to tread lightly. He wouldn’t care if I said to him “I need you to…” or “I want you to…”, but I care.

It is in your best interest to figure out how to let your partner know how to communicate with you so that you get almost everything you want. In yesterday’s conversation, I gave him the roadmap to use so that he can get what he wants. Do yourself and your relationship a favor, tell your significant other how you need to be approached when they want something. It’s a million times better than guessing and ending up in an argument. Now, off to do some laminating!  


3 Bad Words

1. Never

Do you use this word when describing your partner’s behaviors, intentions, etc..??  If you do, stop it.  It’s most likely not even remotely true.  “You NEVER consider my feelings.”  Never is really a clue for you.  It could be your partner is yearning for a closer connection but going about it in a backwards way.  It might be them covertly saying “I want you to know how much I need and care for you and I am not feeling that you want this, too.”  Instead of arguing that you absolutley do “X,Y and Z”, connect tiwth the emotion behind the frustration.  Is it fear, sadness or something else?  Get curious instead of defensive.  

2) Always

Always.  Again, probably not true.  Always and never are like evil twins.  Get them out of your vocabulary.  Instead of saying always, assert your frustration and be specific.  “I am getting tired of feeling like I pick up your dirty clothes on a daily basis.  That might not be totally accurate, but it sure feels that way.”  Always and Never are received as a global attack on somebody’s character.  Instead, focus on how the behaviors or events impact you on a personal level, keep it about yourself and not how horrible the other person is.  If you want the other person to have sympathy for you, attacking them is never the way to go.  Hey babe, I know you have long days too, and that you just want to relax when you get home, however just dumping your stuff on the floor feels like I am your housekeeper and I need to clean up.  Tidiness calms me down, so if you could help me with staying calm, that would be great.”

3) But

I love you BUT….  Ick.  We all know that line.  When you throw a BUT into a sentance it negates the first half of what you said!  It makes it completely irrelevant,  You can have the exact same sentance if you replace BUT with AND.  I love you AND when you come to bed at 3 am it messes up my sleep.  I love you AND when you use that tone with me I feel like a child.  I completely disagree with you AND you are entitled to your opinion.  

Try to kick those words out of your vernacular.  Those words suck AND when I use them my husband is quick to remind me about the 3 bad words.  As always, we are shooting for a B+ / A- range for being in tune and staying connected.  Nobody has an A+ unless they are brushing things under the rug, which leads to resentment and other nasty things.  Learn to air your grievances in a way that will allow your partner to give you everything you want.  

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