This Rule Can Rescue Your Marriage

Posted by Ed 16 mths ago
By Harriet Lerner Ph.D. on May 26, 2019 in The Dance of Connection

If you're dealing with a defensive or difficult partner, take this communication challenge.

The columnist Ellen Goodman once quoted a friend who gave her daughters terrific advice:

“Speak up, Speak up, speak up! “ this mother said. “The only person you’ll scare off is your future ex-husband!” What an improvement over the pre-feminist advice I was raised on: “Listen wide-eyed to his ideas and gracefully add your footnotes from time to time.”

All ways of speaking up, however, are not equal. One of the challenges in marriage is to make authentic “I” statements that express our beliefs and feelings without judging or attacking your partner.

This may be easy enough if your partner is nodding vigorously in agreement (“I thought you were brilliant tonight”) or if the subject matter is a neutral one (“I know you like vanilla but I prefer chocolate”). But when you’re dealing with a defensive partner or a high-twitch subject, nothing is simple or easy.

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