i was talking with a client recently about his frustration with his wife and how much time she spends on her phone.
my client shared he feels like her phone is more important than he is, but when he tries to bring it up, she gets defensive and it turns into a fight.
so this is pretty standard, right?
my partner’s doing something I don’t like, and when I try to talk about it, it turns into a fight.
root of the problem
here’s the problem: you’re communicating about the wrong thing.
the issue is not actually her behavior but that your needs are not currently being met in the relationship.
this is the root of all conflict: your needs are not being met in the moment.
it’s not really about the dishwasher or “where the hell is the remote control”, or whatever.
it’s about your needs not getting met on some deeper, more fundamental level.
the resolution of conflict (i.e. getting your needs met) begins with emotional integrity.
emotional integrity is the ability to notice and communicate your emotions, honestly.
to do this you must first shift your focus from external, which is your partner’s behavior, to your internal experience. specifically, to your feelings.
you can do this by using an “I” statement.
here’s the formula:
i feel _______ (fill in emotion)
in this scenario my client shared he felt abandoned so he went and told his wife he was feeling abandoned.
my clients “I” statement shifted the conflict away from his wife’s phone behavior to the couple connecting over what he was feeling, and what he was missing in their relationship.
this resulted in a resolution of the conflict and the couple felt more connected. in this case, they ended up having sex.
now, I’m not going to guarantee any outcomes but i will guarantee that practicing emotional integrity in your relationship is going to decrease your conflict, and increase your needs getting met.
as always, good luck.