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Communicating is Not Optional
How to Listen So Your Partner Will Talk
Part 2 of 4

Larry James

Step #1 - When it's your turn to talk:

Begin by telling your partner how much you love them. Be sincere.

Let them know how you are feeling about being in a relationship with them. Make your comments germane to the issues you present. Be specific, not general about how you feel. This is your opportunity to really be heard, don't leave anything out.

Choose your words carefully and say them in a loving way. It's okay to come with notes so you won't forget anything. You may even want to rehearse a bit by first writing down how you really feel, then edit your notes to be sure you don't use this opportunity to attack your partner, but only express how you feel.

Clarify your feelings. Don't be accusatory about your upset. Begin by presenting the issues that have caused the most difficulty like this:

"When you (fill in the blank), I feel (fill in the blank)."

This is important. By saying it this way, you avoid blaming your partner for anything; you shift the emphasis to your feelings. There is a big difference. Your comments are not about them or what is wrong with them, but about how you are feeling. Owning your feelings is more truthful and always less hurtful to your partner. This helps open the door to clearer and more productive communications with your partner.

When using "I" messages you take responsibility for your own feelings, rather than accusing the other person of making you feel a certain way. It also may prevent your partner from becoming immediately defensive or intimidated.

No one can argue with your feelings. They are your feelings and you get to choose them. "You" messages begin the "blame game." Avoid this deadly game like the plague.

Feelings are emotions, and sensations, and they are different from thoughts, beliefs, interpretations, and convictions. When difficult feelings are expressed, the sharp edges are dulled, and it is easier to release or let go of the bad feeling.

You can also change your mind about how you feel. That is also only and always your choice.

If your partner is guilty of doing things that need to be forgiven, this is the time to offer forgiveness. You may want to ask for forgiveness too. Offer this as part of your opportunity to share. Read: "Forgiveness... What's it For?"

Do not make your message too complex, either by including too many unnecessary details or too many other issues. Although there is no time limit, it is not wise to drone on and on for hours. Thirty minutes to one hour is appropriate.

IMPORTANT: In closing, present a list of 10 things you love about your partner and make it part of the conversation. When you have said what you need to say, reassure your partner that you do love them and would like for both of you to continue to work together to communicate better.

Lovingly express to your partner how it felt to have them be a committed listener. You might say:

"Thank you for listening to how I feel about our relationship. It feels good to know that you care enough to hear what I have to say. Thank you. I love you."

Give them a hug and do not have any further conversation together about it that night.

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Copyright © - Larry James - Adapted from the book, "How to Really Love the One You're With: Affirmative Guidelines for a Healthy Love Relationship" by Larry James

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