How to make sure the conversations with your partner don't turn into fights?

The way a discussion starts determines how it will end. Dr. Gottman predicted that the way you bring up an issue to your partner can determine if it will be a pleasant conversation or a boxing contest! It is natural that we are not the best communicators when we have to bring something up to our partner that really bothers us. Often, there has been a period of time where you played out the conversation in your head and it made you feel even more disappointed or angrier! But it seems like if you are able to communicate these feelings in a gentle way, that it makes it easier for your partner to listen. No science here, so far! The challenge is that when we are angry, we are angry! So, what to do?

1. Play out in your head how you are going to bring up the issue to your partner in a gentle way.

If it is difficult to imagine how to be gentle in your approach, think how you would like your partner to bring up the same issue to you.

2. Calm yourself down.

Sometimes, after going through step 1 (above), people still feel anger or disappointment. The idea here is not that you are not allowed to feel these feelings! The idea is that you need to find an effective way to communicate them to your partner, so that s/he can provide the validation you need. So, take a few deep breaths until you feel calmer before talking to your partner.

3. Choose the words you use

You have gone through step 1 and 2. Great! Now, think of the words you are going to use. Start by "signalling" to your partner that you want to talk (ex.: "Baby, do you have a minute?", or "There is something I want to tell you, do you have a minute?", etc.), then focus on your own feelings (ex.: "I felt angry/hurt when you hung up the phone on me today. I needed to talk to you.", etc.), then ask what you need (ex.: "Next time, can you let me know that you are busy and cannot talk?", etc.).

These are examples of stock phrases, find your own ones.

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