Communicate Versus Attack


I recently caught up with a friend for lunch. She was describing a recent argument that her and her partner had experienced. It was a common issue that I have encountered previously, involving equal share of domestic responsibilities. Couples today can be constantly challenged with arguments pertaining to domestic responsibilities, working commitments and finances. As a counsellor, I have found that an effective way to improve relationships is to structure the way you communicate with your partner. Use a good choice of words to communicate your feelings, as opposed to attacking with words. Focus on using “I” statements, as opposed to “You” accusations. 

“You” statement – “You don’t assist enough with the domestic chores. You expect me to clean up after you all the time”.

Rephrasing – 

“I” statement – “When you don’t assist with the domestic chores, I feel overburdened and unappreciated”. 

“You” statement – “You don’t spend enough time with me”. 

Rephrasing -

“I” statement - “When you consistently work late, I feel that you prioritise work over me, I feel as though I come second place to you”.

“I” statements encourage us to take responsibility for the way we are thinking and feeling without blaming our partners. It enables us to be assertive, whilst being less hostile and more compassionate. In asserting yourself, you are expressing your inner feelings with specific emotions. 

Keep in mind that a common misperception can be when you use “I feel” to precede a statement. 

For example, I feel you are trying to control me. It is clear that this is a disguised “you” statement as there is an onus of blame, and it fails to express emotion.