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Improve Communication

Stop the Communication Power Struggles and Open Up to Deeper Connection and Trust
By Susie and Otto Collins

In your love relationship or marriage do you tend to be the stronger-willed person or the one who is more passive?

We all fall into roles with the people with whom we are close.

Sometimes we can get so stuck in these roles, tension and conflict develop or increase. This dynamic often play out in communication power struggles that usually only serve to disconnect and erode trust.

Some of these dichotomous relationship roles include: strong one/weak one, bully/wimp or winner/loser.

Of course, there are probably times when you don't play the role of the "strong one," for example.

But, when stress is heightened or a
button-pushing issue arises, you might gravitate toward your usual role which can exacerbate the power struggle and undermine trust.

Let us be clear here.

There are certainly times when it can benefit you and your relationship to be more assertive than usual.

And there are times when taking a deep breath and allowing your partner to try out his or her resolution to a situation is helpful and connecting.

Troubles can become more intense, however, when you and your mate are so stuck in the roles you are accustomed to playing, you become inflexible and even stubborn.

This is when communication tends to break down and the distance between you two grows.

Recognize your patterns.
Take some time alone by yourself. Think about a tense conversation you had recently with your partner.

Can you identify the role you might have played?

If this isn't clear, try to remember which of you did most of the talking during this conversation. What types of words did you use when you conveyed your perspective, if you spoke about it at all?

You might remember yourself saying something like: "Is it ok with you for me to do ________?" Or "I guess I could do __________ if it would make you happy."

There's nothing necessarily wrong with either of these sentences. It's the potential feeling of hesitancy about what you really want that's there that is limiting.

Words like those in the examples above may indicate that you were adopting a more passive role in the conversation.

Once you've identified the role you think you played in this recent incident with your mate, think back to other times in the past.

Is this the role you are most comfortable with or likely to take on?

Think of yourself as a researcher when you do this recognizing. It is most helpful for you to realize your habits and usual role with as little criticism or judgment as possible.

Address your need to play a particular role.
Our habitual roles are often those that we've practiced since childhood.

Being aggressive or even a bully about your ideas might have been a survival strategy that helped you deal with challenges when you were younger.

But in a relationship, today, it will mostly drive you further apart from your partner.

Keep your researcher hat on and try to understand why adopting this usual role when communicating seems to fill a need for you.

Perhaps you feel insignificant or insecure and when you are able to push your ideas on your mate, you momentarily feel more powerful.

This may be uncomfortable to admit to yourself, but it's vital that you do, if it's accurate.

Once you have pinpointed the holes or old wounds that your usual role seems to fill, you can begin to look for other ways to heal yourself.

There are many ways to boost self esteem and gain a sense of empowerment that are not dependent on your mate being inferior or passive.

Without thinking too much about it, make a list of possible ways that you can fill those holes within.

Don't dismiss any idea-- no matter how unlikely it seems.

After you've come up with several possibilities from this brainstorming, pick one or two that you will actually take steps toward.

Try something new.
So far, we've offered you a lot of internal work to do to improve communication with your partner.

This is actually vital to you being able to create a closer and more trusting connection through communication with your mate.

If you choose, you can share about your inner findings with your partner.

This is up to you. You can make improvements even if you don't.

Set an intention to loosen your attachment to your usual role when interacting with your partner. We are NOT suggesting that you try on bullying if you tend to be the "wimp," for example.

What we do suggest is that you bring with you to your next conversation your increased awareness of what you usually do and the way that this contributes to roadblocks in communication.

Even in the middle of a tense talk, breathe and be willing to try on a new role.

If this feels good to you and it seems to benefit
your relationship, we highly recommend that you keep on trying it out!







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Contact Info
Relationship Coaches Susie and Otto Collins
PO Box 14544, Columbus, OH 43214
Contact Susie or Otto about Relationship Coaching by calling 614-459-8121.
For all other inquiries, contact us by email

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