Have you ever wondered if you were talking to someone from another planet when trying to get through to your spouse?
It’s all too familiar in my own marriage, and loudly present in my work with couples. During a couples session today I watched the wife struggle with this question, and the subject was mild, like: what to do with the kids this summer. The husband sighed and looked out the window, apparently the way he usually does when she wants to discuss “an issue”. He felt she had just ambushed him again, as she had done in the original attempt at home. My assessment? There was no “header” and no “buy-in”! Partners often don’t preface a conversation with “I’d like to talk about _____” (header), and they often don’t follow it up with “Do you have a minute?” (buy-in). They just start talking, often about something loaded, and expect full attention and participation, even if their beloved is 25 feet up nailing shingles to the roof. If you too are a guilty party, try having a conversation “by agreement” and see if you get better results, like what to do with the kids this summer, so you can have some time to yourselves!
P.S. Check out my newly published article “How Do I Get My Partner Back?” A Therapist’s Reflection on the Question and the Road Through Grief.
(click on the link)