Don’t Try to FIX your Partner’s Emotions

Has this ever happened to you? You call up your man and ask how his day is, he responds with a slew of “nothing is going right” and “I am so stressed from by boss breathing down my neck..” As any loving partner, you respond by listening, trying to give feedback and advice on how to get through this tough work day.

But in your quest to help your partner find relief from his stress – you find yourself feeling irritable that “he’s not taking any of your suggestions… “and if he just would try deep breathing, he would see how helpful it can be to manage his anger…”

Why this is a toxic merry go round:

Empathy VS Sympathy.

Knowing the difference will save you tons of stress and conflict in your relationship!

Brenee Brown said: “what makes something better is not a response, but connection..” This is the essential component of empathy. It’s a very simple concept but so tough to practice! When we know our loved one is in some kind of emotional pain- our gut instinctual reaction is to want to take that away. So, we go into problem solving mode! We say “do this…stop that” and spend much of our time formulating a solution rather than truly listening and validating out partner’s experience in that moment. This can cause our loved one to feel unsupported, misunderstood and invalidated!

Try this:

  1. Reflect what they’re saying to you- without interpreting) stand on their side, even if they are dead wrong!) “You’re boss is really on your case today” or “there’s been a lot of things that haven’t gone as planned for you today”
  2. Put on your therapist hat and validate, validate, validate: “I’m sure it’s really suffocating to have your boss so involved in everything…”
  3. Let them know you’re here if they need anything/ask is there anything I can do?

Remember: It’s not your responsibility, nor is it even possible to change the way your partner is feeling in any given moment. The more you understand this, the easier it will become to provide empathy.

Check out this short clip that will help you learn more!

Val Spiropoulos, LCPC

Healthy Communication

The Most Common Communication Mistakes Couples Make
And The Profound Impact a Small Shift Can Have on Your Relationship

image

 

Think about the last argument, you and your significant other had…. What did you say? How did they respond? It may have sounded something like:

You never listen to me!”
“You’re always on your phone, you don’t care about spending time with me!”

We are all guilty of using statements like these. Statements that start with “you” and use absolutes like “always” and “never.” When we feel emotional or upset, it’s easy to blame our partner for the way we feel. When we communicate using “you” statements, we direct blame towards our partner, causing them to feel defensive. This form of communication can quickly escalate from an intention to communicate your feelings, into a class A, full-blown fight.

THE SHIFT: “I statements” and how to use them

“I statements” are a form of communication that help you take personal responsibility for your emotions- rather than falsely attributing them to your partner. They help you assertively communicate how a problematic behavior in your partner, effects you- without judgement or blame.

MAKING AN “I STATEMENT”:

Remember, the intention of an “I statement” is to express how you feel in response to your partner’s behavior. This includes using words that describe your emotions such as “angry, anxious, lonely, content, happy, excited”.
BEWARE OF “YOU STATEMENTS” DISGUISED AS “I STATEMENTS” !

Using statements such as ” I feel ignored, manipulated, controlled….” These are “you statements” and descriptions of your partners behavior. These are not words that describe emotions.
Another common mistake when using “I statements” is saying “I feel like you are ignoring me…” This statement implies blame and there is not a description of any emotions.

To better understand how to shift a “you statement” into an “I statement”, check out the chart below:

 

 

With a little education and practice, a fundamental shift happens. Partners learn to take individual responsibility in managing their emotions while accurately expressing themselves to their partner. Couples feel a greater sense of understanding for one another and this increases their bond in a profound way!

The Centered Life Team