How do I get my partner to communicate feelings?

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There is enormous value in the concept of curiosity. What happens when we ask our partner to help us understand their motivation for doing something, instead of judging what they have done?

Imagine for just a moment "parking" your reactivity and hurt and getting curious about this unusual and unique individual with whom you are in a relationship. It's also key to set a conversation up for success by setting the stage.

For example, saying to your partner, "I"d like to talk to you about _____, and I think this will help me understand you better. Will you please find a time to discuss this with me? Is very different than launching into a question or concern without any preparation.

All of us like to know what is coming our way so that we can feel safe in a conversation. Once we feel safe, and heard, we are far more likely to be receptive to the discussion.

In IMAGO therapy these types of conversations take place in the form of "dialogue". In dialogue, each partner has a voice and takes a turn to express themselves as well as to actively listen to what their partner has to say, and this greatly increases the sense of emotional safety. Dialogue is a skill that grows with practice and is proven time and again to be an effective way to increase empathy, understanding, and connection.

Written by:

Anna Gold, M.S.W., R.S.W.
Director, Southern Ontario Counselling Centre
IMAGO therapist

Imago Relationships North America
12172 South Route 47, #207
Huntley, IL 60142
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(866) 960-1550

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