How To Talk To Your Spouse

Sharing your feelings isn't easy

What do you do when your spouse does or says something that hurts your heart?  They probably had no idea that the comment they made or what they did hurt you at all.  Do you snap back or tell them when your calm?  Maybe you close yourself off, stew on it, or try to forget about it?  Many people are unsure how to talk to their spouse in situations like these.
I don’t know what the right or wrong answer is, but I typically stew on it.  I think about having a conversation with him over and over in my mind, but I admit that I rarely follow through and actually do it.  The problem I’ve noticed with this strategy is that the issue comes out during an unexpected conversation when I’m not prepared for it.  I’m not fast on my feet when it comes to debating or having heated discussions.  If it’s something I feel really passionate about I’ll get emotional – bring on the tears.   With other discussions I occasionally cave because I’m a pleaser and I just want everyone to be happy.
Kristin Tetlow Coaching

Compassionate communication works

I read a book while in my coaching program and it got me thinking about how important communication really is.  We can’t read peoples minds, nor can they read ours.  People  rarely pick up on the little hints or clues we say or do to allude to what we need from them, because it’s our need(s) not theirs.  This applies to all people we deal with: spouse, kids, family, coworkers, friends, neighbors.  As important as it is to communicate our needs to others, how we do it is just as important.
The book is called Nonviolent Communication (aka – Compassionate Communication).  It includes a method to use when talking to someone about a problem or about something that you need from them.  Basically, you tell them what you’ve observed, what you feel, what you need, and what your request is.  The hardest part is that you MUST remove all judgment from the conversation and only use facts.  Here’s an example from the book (a mother to her child):
  • “Felix, when I see two balls of soiled socks under the coffee table and another three next to the TV.  I feel irritated because I am needing more order in the rooms that we share in common.  Would you be willing to put your socks in your room or in the washing machine?”
Wow – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve yelled at my kids to pick up their clothes around the house.  This is much smoother, nicer, less irritating, and I think would yield better results.
Here’s a personal example I have used for the multi-taskers in my life.  You know the people I’m talking about?  When you ask a question (or you’re having a full on conversation with them) and they’re on their phone or they get on their phone before your done talking.  Odds are you’ll start feeling frustrated or ignored.  Nine times out of ten you’ll have to repeat some of the information later on because they weren’t really paying attention you.
  • “{Insert name}, when I’m talking and you’re looking at your phone.  I feel frustrated because I’m needing your attention and respect. Would you be willing to put your phone down so we can talk?”

Opening the doors of communication

Yep – I love it!  My youngest son, Dustin, will call me out if I do this to him.  Not quite with this method, but I’m working on him.  Nevertheless, I appreciate it when he does. He deserves my full attention and I don’t want him to feel frustrated or ignored.
Although this is a great form of communication, be prepared that you may not get the answer that you want or were expecting.  Remember it’s about opening the doors of communication and expressing your needs and feelings without judgement.
Communication is critical, but always remember to be compassionate.
Nonviolent Communication by Marshall B Rosnberg

It is possible,

Kristin

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