If you’ve ever been in a romantic relationship, you know firsthand how frustrating it can be. Once two people start sharing more and more time together, perhaps even begin living under the same roof, arguments are bound to happen from time to time.
Sure, you both started out on your best behavior – you both believed the other could do no wrong. But as the days, weeks and months passed, and as the shiny newness of the relationship wore off, that’s when the arguments and bickering began.
But here’s some good news: just because you both find yourselves frustrated with the other more often, that doesn’t mean your relationship is in big trouble. Arguing is not a sign of a hopeless relationship, but how you handle yourself during those arguments is an indicator of the health of the relationship.
If you and your partner are frustrated with one another, here are some tips to help you communicate better:
Indirect communication leaves much to be desired. It also leaves one or both parties very confused. Don’t beat around the bush when you have something to say or when you want to share with your partner why you are frustrated with them. If it is your partner who has initiated the conversation, don’t try to evade it and switch topics, face the music head-on. It takes directness to problem solve.
Talk, Don’t Blame
How you speak to your partner is key during times of frustration. You want to be clear and direct, but you never want to point the finger. Doing so will only cause your partner to become defensive and the conversation will go off the rails.
For instance, if you are frustrated with your girlfriend who tends to be jealous when you innocently talk to other women, you wouldn’t want to say something like, “You are totally out of your mind!” That will only invite defensiveness.
Instead, try using “I statements” and pair them with “behavior descriptions.” This is a constructive strategy because I statements focus on how you feel, without blaming your partner, and behavior descriptions focus on a specific behavior your partner is engaging in rather than a character flaw.
So, for example, you might say something like, “I get frustrated when you think I am flirting with someone when the conversation is completely innocent.” This allows you to be clear and direct without drawing your partner’s character into the line of fire.
A constructive discussion will demand both partners’ full attention. By this I mean it’s important to stick to the issue at hand and not drag other frustrations and resentments into the conversation. Try to solve one relationship issue at a time.
If both of you have been keeping your frustrations pent up and now can barely speak to one another without completely blowing your top, you may want to consider seeking the help of a couple’s therapist. They will be able to help guide the conversation, keeping it loving and constructive.
Interested in exploring treatment options? Get in touch with me. I would be more than happy to discuss how I may be able to help.
Brooke Williams, MA, LPC, is a counselor licensed to practice in South Carolina. She specializes in making relationships thrive – whether working on marriages, parenting, friendships, or conflict in the workplace. You can read more about her here.