Karen Smillie, MFT
People hear better when they aren’t sensing that they are being judged. Your partner is more likely to hear what you are saying if you take out the blame. For example:
When you think of saying: When you leave the dishes in the sink it drives me crazy!
Try saying: When I see dishes in the sink I feel overwhelmed.
When you think of saying: I’m pissed that you didn’t call when you said you would.
Try saying: When plans that we make to communicate don’t happen, I feel hurt and annoyed.
When you think of saying: I hate when you say things like that.
Try saying: Words like that make me feel uncomfortable and attacked.
The same goes for expressing needs. Sure, it is completely valid to say to your partner, “I need you to do …,” or “I need … from you.” However, if you are feeling distant from your partner you may want to try framing your needs in a way that stays completely focused on you.
When you think of saying: I need you to stop being such a slob.
Try saying: I need there to be days where the kitchen sink is completely clean.
When you think of saying: I need you to call me when you say you will.
Try saying: I need my calls to be returned.
When you think of saying: I need you to stop insulting me.
Try saying: I need to feel safe in this relationship.
Try it next time you want to express your feelings or needs to your partner and see how it works.