Pillow Talk: Getting over the fear of communication

Dear Katherine,

My significant other and I aren’t very confrontational. When there’s something that bothers either of us, things are mostly disregarded. How do I increase the communication between us?

Sincerely,

Scared to Confront

 

Dear Scared,

We can probably learn a lot from each other. That’s because while you have trouble opening your mouth, I have trouble closing mine. When my boyfriend slurps his cereal or fails to put the toilet seat down, he’ll probably hear from me. Though I’m a firm believer that cereal isn’t soup, and thus shouldn’t be eaten as such, I also know it doesn’t matter one tiny bit. So, my problem is deciding when confrontation is worth it and when it’s not. And it’s not always easy. Just like how speaking up won’t be easy for you, Scared.

But, you already know that being open with your partner is vital in becoming your most authentic self. The way we relate to others is often something we’ve learned, so I press you to sift through the chapters of your life in hopes of answering this big, complicated question: Why do you fear speaking up? I know that my argumentative nature is linked to growing up in a household in which arguments were etched into the fabric of day-to-day life. Was yours the same? Do you find yourself scared of reenacting the past? Or was the environment in which you grew up in the complete opposite? Was it a space in which you learned that avoiding a problem was the way to solve it?

Perhaps you should ask yourself these questions too: Are you afraid of what your partner might do if you bring up a concern? If so, why? Do you think your partner might leave you? Is a fear of being alone distorting your view of healthy confrontation? Has a past experience with a partner scarred that view?

Write in a journal. Take a walk. Answer these questions with an open mind.

Then, bring up how you feel with your partner. Articulate how much you appreciate your relationship but that you worry that fear is holding you two back from being your most honest selves. Express that you believe that bringing up problems sooner, rather than later, will mean more time for respect and trust. Explain that it’s important for each of you to cultivate a space in which your opinions are expressed, heard and validated.

Then, create this safe space. Oftentimes we work by habit, so start with this one: Whenever anything that bothers you is a deal breaker, vow to express it to your partner in the most understanding, honest way possible. Let your significant other do the same. Listen the way you would want to be listened to.

It’s a problem you both share, but the healing has to begin somewhere. Let it begin with you.

And I promise I’ll let my boyfriend slurp his Honey Bunches of Oats in peace.

Yours,

Katherine

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Read more here: http://dailyemerald.com/2014/10/09/pillow-talk-getting-over-the-fear-of-communication/
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