Do You Copy, Stepmom?
How to Get Your Point Across: The Do’s and Don’ts
BY MARY T. KELLY, MA
When I’m working with couples, it’s not uncommon for each person to try to not only convince their partner why their position is the “right” one but to also try to convince me. There will be a back-and-forth exchange between the couple and then the inevitable look in my direction. Like a referee, they expect me to declare a winner.
Despite being a very direct therapist, I wouldn’t touch that with a 10-ft. pole.
There are several reasons why—but the primary one is this: It’s not the content itself that’s important. It’s the way the content is delivered. This is not to say that the content at hand isn’t meaningful. It usually is. The problem is that the way it is being presented is the what that creates the roadblock: the dead end, the ugly fight, the impasse.
Being partnered with someone who has kids, I’m pretty sure you observe many things about the way he parents. Or the behaviors his kids display. Or the intrusions his ex visits upon you. Naturally you have a desire to talk to your partner about those observations. When you then express yourself and things don’t go your way, you may feel exasperated or unheard.
You may get angry or bury your feelings. Neither are good solutions. Human beings long to be heard and seen. You want that, need that and, at times, crave it. Again, naturally. Yet, when it comes to being heard, we can be our own worst enemies. I’d like to help you out with that.
What follows is a list of Do’s and Don’ts, designed to give you and your partner the greatest chance of being successful at both feeling and being heard and understood. …To read this article, log in and download the April 2018 issue. Don’t have an account? Click here to subscribe.