Communicating disappointment to a significant other can prevent future conflict and strengthen the relationship. A major component of a healthy relationship is the ability to communicate emotionally. According to a study published in the April 2013 issue of the "Journal of Family Psychology," couples that have trouble engaging in intimate communication report lower marital quality. It can be especially challenging to communicate negative feelings, such as disappointment, without creating conflict. If done in a loving and positive manner, this conversation can be a learning experience for both of you.
Find the appropriate time and place to have a conversation where your partner will give you her undivided attention. Avoid bringing up the issue when your significant other is busy or rushing to get somewhere. Choose a private space with limited distractions in which both of you will be comfortable and relaxed. Prepare for the conversation by lowering your stress level through deep breathing, meditation, yoga or taking a walk outside. It is important that you are relaxed so you can calmly express your disappointment without succumbing to your emotions.
Keep the conversation focused on the issue rather than the person. Communicate to your partner how his actions made you feel and why they caused you disappointment. Avoid bringing up problems from the past or making universal statements. Use statements that are concrete and specific, such as "I am disappointed because you didn't help me clean up after dinner," rather than "You're so lazy and never help me clean." Words like "never" and "always" generalize a specific situation and can lead to a full-blown argument.
Be respectful when you are addressing the situation. Stay away from offensive remarks or profanity that will only bring in anger and resentment to your conversation. Try using "I" rather than "you" statements throughout the conversation. Beginning your statements with "you" can seem accusatory and make the other person feel as if they are the problem. This will only result in your partner taking on a defensive stance and blocking out all that you are trying to get across.
Listen to your partner's side of the story. She probably did not mean to hurt you and had absolutely no clue that her actions would cause you disappointment. Let her talk about the reasoning behind her behavior. Give your significant other specific examples of how she can deal with the situation differently in the future. Keep in mind that this conversation is an opportunity for both of you to learn about your preferences, perspectives and feelings. It is also important for you to accept responsibility for your contribution to the situation.
- Make sure your nonverbal signals are in line with your words. Pay attention to your body language, posture, tone and eye contact during the conversation. Your partner's nonverbal cues can also give you an idea of what impact this conversation is having on him.
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