Communication is not just about exchanging words and opinions. Good communication creates understanding and compassion for both parties. Lack of or poor communication is the biggest source of misunderstandings and conflicts in all relationships.
First, you need to understand your partner. It requires a lot of effort and agreed common ground rules.
Express yourself clearly and distinctly, in an appropriate manner, at an appropriate time, in an agreed, safe and respectful frame. This means that you should not just blabber on with your emotions and what is occupying you right now.
When you put your frustrations into words, it will ease the pressure and heal the pain. But it must take place in a safe environment so that you do not express yourself critically and your partner does not feel criticized and blamed.
When you have understood your partner and will communicate in an appropriate, safe and respectful manner, you are ready to talk yourself.
This means that, you should prepare a topic, whether it is a problem with the house, kids, money or a pet, and discuss it. It also means that the conversation is about the problem and not about you or your problems. It is about understanding. It is about communication.
When talking about children or middle age crisis (in Danish we say midtvejskrise), do you think of yourself and your own feelings that may get stirred up when you talk about these problems? Do you discuss things like your plans for the future, dreams, career or what you are studying? Do you talk about your personal interests, hobbies, personal history or family issues? Are you the one who takes time to prepare a topic and prepare yourself emotionally, if there is no way you can talk about it?
Do you consider your own anger and frustration or the feelings of your partner when you talk about the family problems? Have you looked at yourself as the problem when you talk with your partner? Have you considered that, you or your relationship is the problem and is the cause of the problem? Or you are the cause of the family problem? Are you just thinking about your own anger and frustration, not even thinking about how you could help your partner? Are you just saying “I’m mad, I’m mad and I’m not going to change”? Are you waiting for your partner to change or step up to the plate, take responsibility for the family problems? Or are you asking your partner to step up and be responsible?
If you would have asked me three years ago, I would have said that you shouldn’t talk about family in front of the kids because it was not okay. However, as I continued in my practice and went deeper with my work and studies, I saw the need for responsible communication, shared responsibility, and shared knowledge. The practice of the Law of Common Responsibility had been proven. But, the way to change or correct family communication was beyond the scope of my practice.
What changed? What opened my eyes? What is now my strategy to handle communication problems in front of my children?
I have seen couples with the same communication problems and midtvejskrise skilsmisse – and couples that just couldn’t get along. But, they work together in a very cooperative manner to deal with the family problems. Why? They make a promise to each other that they will talk about the family problems and both will find the best solution.
Now, this talk is more like an open discussion about the problem and the solutions. You should expect this to be more emotional than a “talk” because it will be more like “being asked questions”. If you answer the questions negatively, your partner will sense you are not on his or her side and be put off by your talks. Remember this when you give your partner the questions. It’s a challenge.
One thing you should do when you have your talk with your partner is to find out what the partner feels about the family problems. You should not ask what he or she wants or expects. Instead, you should listen intently for the responses and expect to hear them. When you find a response, ask for confirmation and be careful not to interrupt or push.
What you say to your partner is up to you. Sometimes people will try to talk much longer than they should. You should be a good partner first.