I must be married to an alien --

Look for more stories later in this series!

Improving communication among the planets

Did you wake up one morning to look at your partner and instead see a clever alien who has left the body fairly intact but has carefully and subtly taken over the mind and mouth of your once most beloved?

Beware! There's trouble ahead unless you and your evolving partner get on the same wave length and begin speaking the same language.

Do any of these language barriers pop up on your home planet?

If these sound too familiar, don't despair but do make plans to improve your relationship. This series of articles can help, but you may also want to sign up for our online course to improve communication in your relationship. You'll get the benefit of more techniques used by family therapists to help couples with problems. It's an inexpensive way to bring some serenity to your home. Click her for more info.

Today let's look at the primary reason for listening to run amuck in your household. You're probably using a naughty word. What could it be? Think. There's one word that when you hear it in a conversation, you automatically kick into a defensive mode. Even if you continue to listen, you're on guard.

It's YOU. How often in your conversations with your partner do you say, "I think that you, or you should, you should have, you need to, you don't do something good enough?" For all effective purposes, it really shatters the potential for a healthy exchange of conversation because it can hurt. The recipient of the You Statement feels judged, blamed, misunderstood or attacked -- even if that is not the intent. Often partners say they are just trying to help out. However, the opposite occurs.

Can you get your point across without saying you? Try it. Sometimes it is very difficult initially to switch the way you have been talking. Instead of "You," take ownership of your feelings and needs by saying "I."

Next, discuss this article with your spouse or partner. Ask how it does make him/her feel? Don't make excuses, just say you're going to work on it and hopefully, your partner will, too. However, you only have control over what you do yourself. Know that even if only you participate in the exercise, it can reduce tension at home and ease some of your frustration by clarifying what really is the issue that you need to work on. For the next few weeks, catch yourself every time you have a conversation with your spouse with "you….." as a part of it. Then, replace the you with an I sentence. It may slow things down a bit, but that's ok. Things can get heated up pretty quickly when someone feels blamed or judged unfairly. You'll learn more about couples assertiveness in our next article in the series. Or, you can gain more in-depth knowledge in our online course Improving Couples Communication.

If you'd like more help in identifying problems that can confuse your communications and drive a wedge between you and your partner, you'll want to check out Chapters 3-8 in Body Sense. You'll learn how to stop the interference from a painful past, how loss can influence your choice of partners and interactions and how to stop negative messages that you give yourself. You'll also be given powerful techniques that will improve your abilities to listen and act on your feelings, prescriptions to put in control and help you know when to let go.

Brenda Crawford-Clark, LMHC, LMFT, NCC
Author: Body Sense Balancing Your Weight and Emotions
 ©Copyright 2001 Brenda Crawford-Clark