How to Talk to Our Partner So They Can Hear Us

One of the most common difficulties I see couples struggle with is miscommunication.  Each person has something he or she wants to say to the other.  They do their best to get their points across, but they never quite feel heard, and therefore they can’t get relief.   This is frustrating for both.

So why does this happen?  It may be because of how it’s presented. It might seem as if you are saying everything in a way your partner can hear it, but chances are you may be using words that make the listener feel like he or she is under attack or being blamed.

The partner can’t respond except to defend him or herself.  That can lead to an argument and then everyone feels bad.  Both people end up exhausted and spent, and the last thing they want to do is talk to each other.

So instead of miss-communicating, how about learning to re-communicate?

Sometimes in sessions I teach couples how to talk to their partners.  I know this may sound silly and possibly juvenile, but with just a few word changes people can really learn to express themselves, say everything they need, have their partner hear them, understand them and even feel compassion for them.

So here is my list of Do’s and Don’ts.


Anything that starts with:        

I don’t want

I won’t do

I’m not going to

I can’t because

I refuse to

Anything that starts with: 

You need to

You should do

You can’t do

You must do

You aren’t going to

Anything that starts with:

We need to

We should do

We have to

Sentences that start with:

It can’t be

Don’t do this

Don’t say that



 Any statements that start with:

I would like it if you would

I want to have you

I am happy when you

I am hopeful that you

I desire that you

I wish that we could

I am happy when

Any questions that start with:

Would you be willing

Are you open to

Would you like to

Can you join me in

Is it possible

Are you interested in

Would you enjoy

With the Don’ts, you can feel the blame or attack.  It’s as if the speaker is already mad.  The Do’s have no blame or attack.  They are coming from a place of wanting instead of already being unhappy.

Practice this with you partner.  Think of a topic you would like to discuss and try it out using the Don’ts.  See how it feels.  Try it on each other.  Now try the Do’s.  Use the same topic.  Just see if you feel different when you use the Do phrases.  You might feel open, less threatened.

When we are open we have a chance for true communication.  That’s when we feel safe enough to lay down our defenses.  That’s when we can have a true exchange with our partner.  We might even learn something new about our mate; we might even be able to get our point across.

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