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How to communicate with your partner without blaming them

If we’re responsible for our emotions, then when should we communicate them? And how? It goes without saying that communication is important in every relationship. But when we’re blaming somebody else for the way we feel, it’s easy for communication to come with a side of judgement and resentment - which is likely not very productive. So how can we simultaneously take responsibility for our emotions AND let somebody know our thoughts about their behaviour?

Get clear on your own thoughts vs the facts Often we come to these conversations and say things like ‘you made me feel bad’ or ‘you didn’t prioritise me’ or ‘you NEVER listen to me’. These sentences fuel so much emotion and aren’t actually facts. Your partner likely didn’t intend to 'make' you feel bad, plus in their brain they likely do prioritise you greatly, as well as try to listen to you. Understanding what’s the facts of what they’ve done or not done, vs the meaning your brain has attached to it is a great first step. For example, ‘My partner didn’t text to say they’d be late home’ is a fact. ‘My partner doesn’t prioritise spending time with me’ is not a fact, it’s your interpretation of the fact.

Process your emotions All the stories and thoughts from the previous step have likely left residual negative emotion brewing in your body. You’re feeling annoyed, irritated, frustrated. These may not be the best emotions to bring to the table when you’re trying to have a calm and constructive conversation with the best possible outcome. I have posts on Instagram that can teach you how to process your emotions. And it’s worth doing this before charging into a conversation that you’d prefer to handle with more care.

Create curiosity and compassion Coach your brain beforehand to come from a place of curiosity instead of blame. You’re most likely in a relationship with this person because you love them and think they’re a good person, yet it’s easy for our brains to immediately kick them off the team the minute they behave in a way that’s different to how we would have in that situation. Before turning on them and making them the enemy, consider their perspective from a place of curiosity and compassion.

  • What might your partner’s thoughts and feelings be about this?

  • If your brain is assuming it’s malicious, is there perhaps an alternative explanation?

  • Can you put yourself in their shoes and understand their actions at all?

  • What might compassion for both of you say in this situation?

Communicate without blame or judgement

Yes, there may be something your partner has done that you don’t love. But your feelings are still created by your thoughts. And understanding this is the key to reframing from blaming or resenting them for forcing these terrible emotions into your body.

‘When you said [this] my brain made it mean [this]’

‘When you don’t [do this], I interpret it to mean [this]'. But what are your actual thoughts and feelings about it?' As opposed to… 'You made me feel like [this]!’

‘You did [this] and made me feel [this]! It's your fault!'

Coming from a place where you understand your interpretation isn’t the same thing as the facts of the circumstance opens up the space for your partner to explain their side (their interpretation) and share what they were thinking and feeling. Step 3 should have also helped you create a mindset where you’re able to be open and curious about their response, without shutting it down or disregarding it.

Consider how this could be an opportunity for connection When we’re not blaming and shaming each other and instead being curious about what our partner is experiencing, we can actually use these moments as opportunities to connect with them. By being willing to be honest about our own thoughts and feelings, while also holding space for theirs - we build trust and connection, which is likely the greater goal. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- *Please note - The tools and concepts I teach should ALWAYS be used to help you cultivate loving relationships, not to stay in situations that are unloving or harmful. Making sure you don't use this work against yourself and ensuring self love and care is always the highest priority is important and something a coach can also support with. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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