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
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:
- Be Direct
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.
2. 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
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.
3. Stay Focused
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.
Shane Birkel is a therapist practicing in Dover, New Hampshire. He specializes in working with couples and individuals who are dealing with the aftermath of an affair. For more information check out shanebirkel.com, email email@example.com or call 603-852-3654.