Sometimes, it seems as if all you do is fight. As a relationship therapist I often work with people on their relationships, beyond the intimacy stuff. One question I get frequently is “how do you communicate in a relationship without fighting” – and the answer is what this article is all about.
Assuming the worst
One reason we end up having the same arguments over and over again, is because we’ve gotten into a habit of assuming the worst about our partner – instead of the best.
You start to see their behaviour or their lack of action as a sign of something negative, which in turn leads to communication mishaps and conflict.
By switching perspective you can let go of the small annoyances and focus on what your partner does to make you happy. This is one of many things that keep a relationship alive.
Now, this isn’t to say that there are never situations where your partner makes selfish decisions or doesn’t listen. They’re only human and we all make these kinds of mistakes (yes, even you and I do it!).
However, the question is; will your relationship improve by you constantly focusing on your partner’s faults and interpreting them as malicious? Or could changing your perspective from assuming the worst to assuming the best, be better for you and your relationship?
Below are four common examples I’ve heard of as a relationship therapist and coach. And they all help you switch perspective so you won’t have to ask “how do you communicate in a relationship without fighting” any time soon again.
They never surprise you – because they don’t love you
This one hurts. You’ve hinted and told your partner explicitly what you want. You’ve even surprised your partner yourself, all to let them know how much you’d love a surprise.
For you, surprises equal love and it’s how you feel the most appreciated and cared for.
So when your partner fails to follow through on what you feel is a simple and easy gesture – you immediately go to the worst case scenario in your head: they don’t love you.
But instead of looking at what they’re not doing – what would happen if you shifted perspective and looked at what they are doing.
- Perhaps they always make sure to buy your favourite juice from that shop down town?
- Or maybe they clean the bathroom meticulously to make sure it’s fresh, because they know you love that.
What are they actually doing, and could you look at the actions they are taking as signs of love? Because they likely are.
They prioritize work instead of time with you – because work is more important
This is a difficult one – work is a non-negotiable – we need to work in order to pay our bills and put food on the table. However, how our partner chooses to work or their line of work, isn’t always what we feel is important.
When one partner is constantly working and it seems like work is the only thing they find important in life – switching perspective and assuming the best intentions behind their choice, (instead of selfishness), is powerful.
- Maybe they’re prioritizing work in order to be able to buy you gifts – because that’s how they show their love?
- Or perhaps they’re working towards a big goal that you used to dream of together, like going on holiday or staying at that fancy hotel you drive by every day?
What if their priorities aren’t a sign of finding work more important at all? What if it’s a token of their love?
They never tell you, you look pretty – because they think you’re unattractive
For some people, words of appreciation are an important way of feeling loved and attractive. For others, it’s more about acts of service; surprising the other, or physical connection; hugging and kissing and holding you at night.
Just because your partner doesn’t tell you how they feel about your appearance, it doesn’t have to mean they find you unattractive or ugly.
See what happens if you change your frame of mind to focusing on what your partner is doing to validate your looks.
- Maybe they’re constantly touching you or giving you quick massages.
- Perhaps they’re always the first one to suggest having a bath together?
- Or maybe they’re really good at buying you clothes for your birthday?
Flip the script and assume the best about your partner; it will probably make you feel better and you’ll avoid the same old fights.
Assuming the best
How do you communicate in a relationship without fighting? Well, fighting in relationships is unavoidable – however, fighting about the same old things day in and day out, isn’t.
Changing the way you think about your partner actions or inaction might just be all you need to stop the incessant conflicts.
Ask yourself how you know what you think you know? And see if assuming good intent, instead of bad intent makes a difference.
The object of changing perspective isn’t to eliminate important talks or to never have an argument at all.
It’s about making a conscious effort to see all the positives, not just the negatives. Because when you do, you’ll find you won’t have to ask the question “how do you communicate in a relationship without fighting” – it won’t be a question at all.
Originally published on Therapy by Leigh.