I am just out of a session with a fairly new client, the type that I cannot even be bias about - as I do not know her history in details yet. She cannot break the silence she is facing every night at her home. Her partner arrives back from work and it is the same routine that brings her evening to an end watching some kind of TV program that she truly dislikes.
My partner is tired and just wants to watch TV, this is so unlike him. He does not want to talk to me. Out future is uncertain and I hate that, he does not want to know about it. We are drifting apart.
The first thing I would like to say is that you are not alone, I was in this position before and several of my clients come to me with the same complaints.
And the second is: anything you think you know about him is a supposition. You cannot be certain about his feelings or thinking - only if he told you something.
With that in mind I would like to list 4 tips that can improve the communication with your partner:
#1 - Your reality might be different from the other one's perspective
Or: be ready to question yourself.
Your needs to communicate might differ from the other persons needs. What you feel as a silent treatment, can feel very comfortable to the other person. Be empathetic, try to put yourself into the other one's shoes and see if you are the one trying to overdo, or over talk.
Sometimes finding out the right balance takes more than a conversation, but it is worth.
#2 - Open and "call for action" questions
Instead of asking her/him: - How was your day today? which could bring a good or bad answer and the end of a conversation (if good was the answer) or a start of a fight (if bad was the answer and you try to dig deeper), how about trying on something on the lines of:
- What did you do today?
A question that leaves her/him free to talk about something they feel comfortable about and can be a nice conversation starter.
Bonus tip: This works wonderfully with children too :)
#3 - Take ownership
This should probably be tip number one, but I like the idea of leaving it here, hidden in number 3, to see how engaged you are on making the change.
If you do not have enough communication in your couple: talk! Find engaging subjects, drift away from conflictuous subjects for now (until communication is established) and talk! Get all those histories out. Why are you still waiting for the other one to start? Do it yourself.
#4 - Do something together
You choose each other. I am sure you have more than a few things in comum, some places that you enjoy going to. It can be having diner in that nice little place around the corner, and art exhibit, a bicycle ride. It does not matter, as long as it is something you both truly enjoy and can share the joy of doing it.
As long as you can share the joy of each other's company. This will help you feel the other person closer to you and easy the process of starting the conversation next time.
I am hoping you are at least a little curious now to start trying these tips out in your relationship. And if you do, please share your experience with me, I would love to hear from you!
Stay safe, love,