I was going to name this: “How to communicate and get your significant other to listen to you about one particular issue, without you having to repeat yourself like a maniac.” Sound familiar?
It’s something I’ve heard many times, and in my own relationship as well. In one way or another, communication is an issue. Our society operates by communication. We listen, we express and we speak. We share our thoughts, and we absorb others’ viewpoints. But every piece of information that comes our way is filtered by experience, opinions and emotions. And communication is the art of getting that information through those filters and remaining relatively intact. No wonder it’s so difficult.
These filters can turn into communication barriers. In relationships, communication barriers are not a good thing. They can cause misunderstandings and arguments. This is especially true when there are certain issues in your relationship that seem to be set on repeat. An issue that you’ve talked to your significant other about, and how you want it fixed; and it’s still not happening, no matter how many times you mention it. It might or might not be a relatively trivial issue, but because of how many times it has occurred, it is becoming a bigger problem (not sure if human or broken record?). Sure, you love your significant other, and sure they have their glowing qualities…so why can’t they just do this one thing? And how on earth do you make them listen? I have three suggestions for you: Be considerate, be patient, and be understanding.
1. Be Considerate
Even though you feel like punching something, it always, always helps to speak calmly and kindly. If you know that you can’t at that moment, then don’t speak and wait until you are a little more relaxed. This way, when speaking, not only will you be calmer ;but as a result you will be clearer. Listen so you will be listened to.
Furthermore, it is important to be clear. Being clear about what you want from your significant other, and why you want it will help them to understand why they should be doing it. Always ask them if your request is okay with them.
Lastly, appreciate their efforts. If they are trying, praise them. Thank them. They may not be perfect, but they are acknowledging that this is important to you; so when they do remember, appreciate them. Never forget that the most important thing is love, and once you ground yourself in this, consideration will occur much more easily.
2. Be Patient
They did it for a while, and then stopped. Or they forgot. Or they only did it once. Before you pull out the boxing gloves for another round…
Begin with a question, not an accusation. Coming in angry and accusatory is a sure-fire way to start an argument. Do not come in with assumptions. Relax, put on your detective hat, and try and find out the reason for why they didn’t do it. When you ask instead of accuse, it gives them a chance to question themselves. Once answered, patiently remind them of your take on the matter. Don’t be mean. Don’t humiliate them. Just remind them. Even though they love you, they will not take kindly to being forced or embarrassed into doing what you like.
Secondly, the best way to show them is leading by example. It’s no use if you’re always nagging at them without doing it yourself. Don’t be a hypocrite, and simply try to keep on-path. This requires a lot of patience, but walking the talk will always pay off.
Thirdly, don’t forget to encourage them. They probably don’t feel too good about forgetting or upsetting you. Remind them that you are not perfect either (and you're not.) Show them that you haven’t given up on them.
3. Be Understanding
So you’re almost at your wits end. This same issue has been going on for far too long, and the stress is giving your some sort of strange back pain (okay, maybe that’s just me). But you realise that you need this to end now, before you snap.
If it keeps happening point inward. Now is a great time to take a long, hard look at yourself. Firstly, set your boundaries. Is this issue a deal breaker? Is this issue going to be the deciding factor on whether or not you continue your relationship…or is it something you can accept will never be quite the way you idealised it?
If it’s something you can let go of, re-evaluate your listening skills. Are you really listening to your significant other? Is there truly a reason why it is not happening? Do you understand where they are coming from? Are you mistranslating what they are saying; in other words are your communication filters on?.
Only after you’ve looked inward, should you begin to look outward. Not because it’s all your fault, but because it gives you a good basis on how to figure out where your significant other is at.
Is this the peak of their performance? Perhaps this is the best they can do. It might not be a question of whether your standards are too high but instead, whether these standards are applicable to the kind of person your significant other is. Maybe this is truly the most they can give.
Or perhaps their pace is slower than yours. This requires understanding on your part, and another look at your boundaries. Are you ready to accept that this might be the best they can offer at this point?
Communication is never always easy, let alone communication within a romantic relationship. Feelings are at risk. Misunderstandings and arguments will come to the forefront, all in what may feel like a futile attempt at being heard and being understood. However, it is not futile if you are determined to keep the relationship strong throughout misunderstandings. Being considerate, patient and understanding may seem like oversimplifications, but sometimes, keeping it simple is truly one of the best paths to take.