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Parenting and Partnership: Skillful Communciation

One of the key ingredients to a successful relationship is skillful communication. We know this, we try to practice this. We often feel like we’re falling far short of “skillful.”

Which communication practices are healthy habits? Which are like TNT to an otherwise peaceful evening?

The problem is — just as we might not parent in exactly the same style for each child — we can’t follow a strict set of rules for each partnership. Each couple (and each individual within each couple) is different.

Though each couple must find their own way, there are some general concepts that make for better communication and ultimately better connection between partners.

  1. Prioritize productivity.

    Are you talking in circles? Having the same fight for the thousandth time? Get to the point, get to the REAL issue and — most important — get BETTER each time you have an argument.

  2. “I feel” over “you do.”

    This is such an old stand-by that some couples have found it to be less effective in practice than intent, believing that those classic “I feel” statements are merely thinly veiled attacks. (Read: I know what you’re really trying to say.) Still, it’s always better to take accountability for your emotions rather than project them onto another.

  3. “Always” and “Never” always bring never-ending grief. 

    Are you sometimes stubborn? Do you like to get your way? Sure. But nobody likes to hear that they are alway playing the victim or never listening. Nothing is that absolute and no good can come from painting your partner in such an unwavering (and unflattering) light.

  4. Know when to fold ’em.

    All worked up and saying mean things? Spinning and spitting and trying to WIN? This might be a great time to GO TO BED ANGRY. Because once you’ve crossed the line from disagreement to BATTLE, you might find yourself blindly running back into the crossfire only to suffer greater wounds and further conflict. Try again after a good night of sleep, a warm cup of coffee and the forgiving nature of the morning sunlight.

Remember, the early parenting years are TOUGH on the partnership. Rest well, eat well, love well and — when in doubt — give your better half the benefit of the doubt.

 

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