Communication is the single most important tool in a couple’s toolkit. Whether you just started to date or have been married for decades, it’s crucial to make sure that the other person really knows how to listen. But what do you do if the person you love is always trying to live their life when you’re trying to talk about your needs, no matter how needy they are? Here’s how to shut them down while you open up:
Pick a Good Time—for You
Wait until your guy is relaxed and open, like right after you get home from the movies. But if that doesn’t work for you, just pick whatever feels good. Did he just get off a 12-hour shift? Too bad! You’re the one who’s really putting yourself out there right now. It’s important that you feel comfortable when discussing whether or not we all see the same colors or if everyone sees their own different colors.
Dish Out a Warning
Make sure to warn him about what’s coming so he doesn’t freak out too much. If he responds, “I don’t think now is a good time to get into this,” try filling him in on the backstory. Does he remember that weird thing his friend said to you eight months ago? That way he’ll be able to see where you’re coming from right now, even if “right now” is during his NASCAR tryout.
Accept Different Communication Styles
Men don’t always communicate their emotions directly. Some explore their feelings through activities, like woodshop or bodybuilding. Remind your man of that when he thinks he needs to say something. Tell him that what he really needs is for you to explain to him why he feels what you think he feels about what you just said about ghosts. Ghosts communicate in lots of different ways, and so can you when it comes to convincing him that ghosts are real.
Ask for What You Want
Being upfront about your needs is the only way to make him take you seriously after he says, “Babe, we had this exact conversation last week.” Try using active verbs like “well, I just wanted to clarify…” so he knows you’re serious about finding out why he doesn’t believe in polygamy. Active verbs make you sound confident, and hey—you deserve sister wives! Passive verbs, like “you were told” will only slow you down as you steamroll over his deflated psyche.
Use “I” Statements, Not “You” Statements
And use a lot of them. Start every statement with “I”. It’s a mature and responsible trick to make the other person more receptive to your message. Did your guy just say, “Are you even listening to me?” Try replying, “I actually find that kind of interruption really distracting when I’m trying to process things. Would you cut it out?” Ta-da! Responsible communication. He’s sure to understand why you find it disrespectful when he looks you directly in the eye.
Remember the Golden Rule
It’s like Jesus always said: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Try to put yourself in each your man’s shoes for a minute. Look at it this way: If he were you right now, he would probably want himself to shut the fuck up, too. You’ve got some really interesting points to make about gymnastics!
Don’t Make it Personal
Attacking each other won’t fix your problems. For example, try not to blame him for stressing you out with his opinions when he says, “Did you just throw something at me? I‘m going to my sister’s.” Instead, just block him out completely. You don’t need all that negativity in your life, anyway. You were right on the edge of a really important breakthrough about how to convert lead into gold.
Remember, talking isn’t necessarily communicating. Good communication takes honestly, vulnerability, and listening to the other person, which in this case is you, goddammit. That’s what communication is all about. Wait, where did he go?