As busy professionals and parents, it's not uncommon to feel disconnected from our partners due to work, parenting, and daily life stresses. However, reconnecting with your partner is crucial to maintain a healthy and happy relationship.
In a previous article, we discussed the importance of prioritizing your relationship as a co-parenting couple. I also shared 5 ways to show your partner love and appreciation. But what if you're not on speaking terms and struggle to have a constructive conversation without conflict?
To communicate openly and honestly with your partner, follow these steps:
Find the right time and place: Choosing the right time and place for a conversation is crucial because it sets the tone for the rest of the conversation. You want to choose a time and place where you both feel comfortable and won't be interrupted. For example, having a conversation at a noisy restaurant during peak hours isn't ideal, but chatting over a quiet meal at home might be better.
Be clear about what you want to say: Being clear about what you want to communicate is essential because it helps you stay focused and avoid getting sidetracked during the conversation. You want to make sure that you prioritize what's most important so you can effectively communicate your thoughts and feelings. To do this, make a mental list of your thoughts and feelings before the conversation, and decide what you want to focus on.
Use "I" statements: Using "I" statements is important because it helps avoid blaming your partner and focuses on your thoughts and feelings instead. This makes the conversation less confrontational and more productive. For example, instead of saying, "You never listen to me," say, "I feel unheard when we talk because I don't feel like you're really listening."
Listen actively: active listening is crucial because it helps you better understand your partner's perspective and show that you care. This involves paying attention to what your partner says verbally and nonverbally through their body language. Also, use nonverbal and verbal cues like nodding, saying "mm-hmm," and asking clarifying questions. This shows that you're actively listening and helps your partner feel heard.
Validate your partner's feelings: Validating your partner's feelings is crucial because it shows that you care about their perspective, even if you don't necessarily agree with them. Validating feelings involves acknowledging that their emotions are real and understandable. For example, if your partner says, "I feel frustrated when we don't communicate," you could respond by saying, "I understand why you feel that way. It's important to me that we communicate better."
Focus on solutions: Focusing on solutions is essential because it helps you move the conversation forward constructively. Rather than just dwelling on problems, you want to work together to find solutions to improve your relationship. To do this, brainstorm ideas together and find ways to compromise. For example, if you're having trouble finding time to spend together, you could work together to schedule regular date nights.
Follow up: Following up on any agreements or solutions you've come up with is essential because it shows that you're committed to making changes and improving your relationship. Make sure to check in with your partner regularly to see how things are going and make any necessary adjustments. For example, suppose you agree to schedule regular date nights but find it not working. In that case, try adjusting the schedule or finding a different activity that works better for both of you.
Remember that reconnecting with a disengaged partner takes time and effort. However, it's worth it to maintain a healthy and happy relationship. By following these steps, you can communicate openly and honestly with your partner and work towards a stronger relationship.
If you're feeling stuck or unable to reconnect on your own, consider seeking professional help from a relationship therapist.
Inhale courage and exhale fear. Go ahead and have that conversation you've been avoiding.
Let's make your success healthy and happy!