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Why “I” Is Better Than Saying “You” When Communicating With Your Partner

Sameer C
·5-min read

There will be days in a relationship when arguments may seem endless. A squabble may turn into a vicious fight that has consumed hours and days, creating an unnecessary rift. Experts suggest that such fights are quite common in relationships and result due to lack of adequate communication tools for couples.

Most individuals have not been taught to communicate their feelings right from a young age. Few families are known to actually talk about their problems with each other, especially in Asian households. This leaves you with little knowledge about what to do when you need your partner’s patience and support or have to offer the same.

That’s why experts suggest that communication tools for couples are extremely important when two individuals are looking to build a life together. What couples need are skills to communicate and you can do this by first acknowledging yourself in the relationship.

This starts with using the term “I” instead of “you” when having an argument or heated discussion.

4. Communication Tools For Couples

Using “I” instead Of “You”

Image courtesy: iStock

Psychologists say couples tend to use phrases that involve the word “you” quite that can be a trigger point in several fights. Phrases like “You always do this,” or “You never understand the problem,” immediately put the other person in a defensive mode. The “You” term is accusatory.

However, when you replace the word “you” with “I” you do not necessarily assign the blame with your words. This is not to say that you take the blame even when it’s not your fault. But choosing to say “I” is about sharing what you feel about your partner’s actions.

Dr Sarah Rattray, founder and CEO of the Couples Communication Institute says, “It’s solid wisdom that helps couples be less accusatory and explain your point of view with confidence and perspective. It also helps you make an action-oriented request.”

The practice of using “I” in statements instead of you can help diffuse the ticking bomb in a relationship. The idea of any disagreement is that you come to a conclusion that’s acceptable to both individuals. You can only do so with a calm and composed mind that will bring both people closer. “Being curious about the partner you cherish is a great state of mind,” adds Dr Rattray.

The use of “you” in a statement also comes across as presumptuous and invalidating. It would be like judging your partner’s thoughts, intention, or feelings even before allowing them a chance to speak.

Instead of saying, “You don’t know how to do that?” you can say “Would you like me to share with you how I would do that?” The tonality of the sentence changes and that will help diffuse several high-pressure situations. It may feel odd at first but can be adopted with some practice.

Focus On What You Want

communication tools for couples
communication tools for couples

Image courtesy: Unsplash

Couples like to talk about what they want their partners to not do, rather than what they want from their partners. Experts suggest that this is because the brain has a negative bias and identifying the shortcomings is your first instinct. We are drawn towards focussing on the negative instead of the positive, which can be termed as a survival instinct.

However, this also tends to highlight your partner’s flaws more transparently in a conversation. Instead, your response can be constructive and you can actually communicate where you think your partner is lacking in the relationship.

Do you want them to listen better, be more reasonable about doing household chores, respect your space or simply appreciate you more?

Communicating what you want instead of what you don’t is going to yield better results.

Explain Why You Want The Change

communication tools for couples
communication tools for couples

Image courtesy: Unsplash

Being assertive about what you want from your partner could appear as dominating to certain individuals. Not many people like being told what to do or how to do it. So, when you do share your feelings about certain shortcomings, they may feel personally attacked.

That’s why you need to follow up your “request for change” with a reason explaining why your partner should do so.

It’s easier to just say that “I want more time and attention from you through the week.” But you will also need to reason if your partner has been spending too much time in the office or is out with friends to spend any time at home.

The idea is to evoke empathy from your partner for them to voluntarily make the change.

When You Should Only Listen

communication tools for couples
communication tools for couples

Image courtesy: Pexels

Not all fights need to be about the problems between the couple. Sometimes your partner is burdened with too many responsibilities and needs an outlet to vent. All they need is someone to hear them out and acknowledge their concerns. As a partner, your first instinct could be to go in the “fix-it” mode and offer a solution.

However, you need to make sure if your partner is actually looking for a solution.

On several occasions, the solution may be obvious but your partners just need to have their feelings acknowledged first. It’s the kind of validation that people look out for when under duress. If you choose to directly give a solution, it would be saying that the problem has no merit. This can also imply that your partner’s problem isn’t as important as you think.

In most cases, it’s mostly about providing emotional support to your partner, who just need the reassurance to go back out there and fight their battles on their own. They may have the solution to the problem, but all they need is some support and encouragement at this moment.


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