How to Talk to Your Lover can help build a Healthy Relationship and Avoid Marital Problems that can lead to an Abusive Relationship.

Time after time in our work with couples, at Marriage Couples Counseling in New York City, we hear how lovers get caught up in heated, often hurtful arguments that can lead to recurring marital problems and, sometimes, abusive relationships because they don’t know how to express their deeper hurts.

There are three possible ways that lovers can talk to each other.

1. They can criticize or blame one another.

2. Analyze, condescend or talk down to each other, or

3. Hardest of all, they can reach down into their hearts and put simple words (the simpler the better) on their deeper feelings and hurts whenever the other does or says something, often unintentionally, to trigger them. It’s always the hurts that trigger the angry blow ups in any argument.

Here are some examples of how lovers say things to each other in the wrong way followed in each example by how they could be said in a better, more constructive way.

Claire to Mike: You’re friends are a bad influence on you and bring out the worst aspects of your character. Every time you hang out with them, you come home dead drunk and treat me like a door mat. Claire might say say it in the following way: Mike, when you get drunk with your friends, I worry that something horrible will happen to you. I also feel hurt that you want to hang out more often with them than with me.

Carol to Joe: You always have sex with me like I’m a piece of chopped steak. Haven’t you ever learned how to make love to a real woman!? Carol could say it this way: Joe, instead of just jumping in, how I wish you’d take time to set up a romantic mood and enjoy more foreplay with me. How I hunger for more delicious, sensual moments with you, without always rushing to home plate.

Robert to Vivian: You invariably miss the main point whenever I try to explain something to you. Why, just once, can’t you surprise me!? Robert could try saying it this way: Viv, my whole life I’ve felt misunderstood by my parents, my teachers, by everybody. And when you misunderstand me, I feel anxious that maybe something’s wrong with me and I don’t even know what it is. if you could please help me talk more simply, say things better to you.

Carl to Louise: Your O.C.D. is driving me crazy. Whenever I move something in the apartment, you’re right there on top of me putting it back where it was and it doesn’t make any damn sense why it had to be there to begin with! What the hell’s the matter with you!? Instead of making a quick diagnosis of Louise’s behavior, which is probably wrong, and telling her she’s deeply flawed, Carl might try saying it this way: Sweetheart, when you re-arrange things like that I feel trapped, like I’m in a prison, and sometimes I feel like I’m suffocating. Please give me some space to make my own little mess and you can arrange everything else in our home to heart’s delight.

In addition to the above examples, see the stories of three other couples who have struggled with discovering the subtext of their arguments.

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