When the heart is truly open, there is a natural sense of appreciation for others, even while being aware of their imperfections.
I recently reunited with a couple whose wedding I officiated fifteen years ago.
They look older but their spirits are as I remember them. Open, inquisitive, yet clearly defined in their ongoing aspirations. “Jack Daniels” joined us at the table and story begat story.
It was a magical night.
As I was leaving, Ira suddenly asked me, “Do you know why Maureen and I are still in love?”
Various answers came to mind, but I just said, “No, why are you still in love?”
With pride he replied, “We’re kind to each other.”
Ira explained how he and Maureen consciously decided that they didn’t ever want to lose sight of being each other’s partner and best friend – not punching bag or dumping ground for the day’s irritations.
So simple, yet so challenging!
While there are many ways in which to be kind to your partner, how you express what you’re feeling is one of the most important.
Letting your partner know how you feel in a way that doesn’t turn him or her into that punching bag is one of the kindest things you can do for each other.
Here are 4 ways to avoid turning your partner into a “punching bag”
1. Has anyone ever been annoyed with you and sarcastically asked, “What the #@$% is wrong with you?” And when they asked what’s wrong with you, did you smile, sit down and tell them what’s wrong with you? Didn’t think so!
Loudly attacking your partner with phrases such as, “What’s wrong with you?” or “You’re driving me nuts!” will definitely drive your partner away.
They’ll be so annoyed with you that they won’t want to talk to you later on or help you. And why should they?
They just signal you’re in a bad mood without offering any insight into why. There’s never a good time to be nasty!
2. Do you end heated “discussions” with, “That’s just how I am”?
No one is ever “just” something.
We always feel a certain way for a reason. If you don’t tell your partner why you’re feeling what you’re feeling, they’ll storm off thinking you’re being a jerk.
AVOID: dramatic declarations.
They provide no clue as to why you are the way you “just” are and most likely your partner is going to feel “just” fed up with you for stonewalling him or her.
3. When you say, “I’m kinda mad at you right now”, how mad is “kinda”?
Is your “kinda” the same as your partner’s “kinda”?
Understated expressions can only confuse your partner.
The clearer you are in describing how you feel – and why – the better chance your partner has of understanding you and being able to help you.
AVOID: vague words such as, “a little”, “sort of”, “I guess”, “maybe” and “a few” because while you know what you mean by these words, your partner may not.
When you say, “I’ll be there in a few minutes,” how many minutes is that “few”? The more specific you are, the better you increase your chances of being misunderstood.
4. Beware of YOU!
When you attack the other person with a barrage of “you’s” – “You never”, “You always”, “You disappoint me”, “You make me sick” – all the other person can do is one of two things: lash out or become defensive.
AVOID: clobbering your partner with the word “you.”
This one little word has the power to press your partner’s buttons.
You know how you react when someone attacks you with “you,” so why attack your partner with “you” when you know what you’re doing?!
We’re all guilty of what I’ve described here.
Because old habits die hard.
Because we’re lazy.
Because we think we don’t or shouldn’t have to explain ourselves.
Consider these questions:
- In the past week, how many times have you accused your partner of not “caring”?
- In the past week how many times have you complained to someone about your partner not understanding you?
- In the past week how many times have you understated your feelings or bombarded your partner with “you” accusations?
- What would you like to see happen differently?
You and your partner protect and keep each other sane when –
you are aware of and acknowledge each other’s feelings
try to understand and not judge those feelings
take responsibility for owning and expressing your feelings
Now that’s being kind!
If you want more tips on how to communicate in smart, healthy ways with your partner – during wedding planning and beyond –
check out my book,
How to Plan Your Wedding AND Stay Sane!
Treat you and your partner to a communications coaching session with me.
Click HERE for details!