Getting caught up in the same argument with your partner? Try this out next time…
Over the last couple of days, I have been working with different clients on an individual basis who have occassionally felt the need to discuss issues, problems relating to their current partner. For no apparent reason, there seemed to be a common theme, element, idea emerging most of the times; “how do I get to see his/her point of view? How can I avoid making the same mistake, or avoid getting caught up in the same sort of argument, which leads to nowhere?”
Communication isn’t about how much you say but whether each person is able to understand the other’s perspective. I’m sure you might be feeling that your partner is “unique”, that he is a reluctant talker, which could potentially make you even more upset. On the other hand, your partner might be feeling that you are constantly trying to underestimate his case, criticize his reasonsing, creating a vicious circle.
What I was aiming to do through this post was to suggest a very simple idea, which could be tried out next time you and your partner get caught up in the same never ending argument. So next time your partner makes a point, take a moment to digest whatever he/she is saying. Then say it back to him/her, not word for word, but trying to show him/her that you got the gist of it. The imporant element that you need to bear in mind is the fact that you should not stop trying until your partner agrees that you have understood his/her point of view.
The aim of this “technique-exercise” is to convey to your partners the message that you are both listening because you feel that you equally have something significant to say. Then it is very important to switch roles and do the same with the other partner too. Once you are not so busy or upset trying to explain yourself to your partner, you will have managed to use your time productively, you will both feel able to decide what the next step is, or come to a common agreement.
I think that this is the single most important thing couples can say to each other…
Eva Lychrou is a psychotherapist based in London and in Athens, helping people deal with family issues, relationship difficulties and self development in general.
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