'You' and 'I': The Art of Communication in Marital Life – II

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There is a huge difference between a positive statement such as: "I always look forward to you returning home in the evening to see you and talk to you", and a negative one such as: "You never care to listen to me even when we meet in the evening."

The use of the pronoun "I" in conversation is more influential and more effective than the use of the pronoun "you"; and "I" always reduces the severity of what you want to say. Try to compare the following two statements:

·         "You don't care about the condition of the house" which is construed by the listener to be an accusation of negligence.

·         "I feel lonely when I am doing the housework", which means the wife bears the responsibility for doing the housework even if she feels lonely, and she does the housework alone.

Dear brothers and sisters:

When the spouses use the subjective pronoun “I” more often in their dialogue, and include positive meanings in their words, their relationship will improve immediately and noticeably, and they may find solutions for their problems once they improve their manner of conversation and dialogue.

It is true that it is not easy to start using the subjective pronoun "I". This depends on the decision taken by each of the spouses to start bearing responsibility for their feelings and needs, and expressing themselves wisely. This requires the person to acquire a special skill in the ability to talk about oneself.

The use of the subjective pronoun "I" means that one will no longer use expressions such as: “You always…”, "You never…", "You make me feel…", which will be replaced with such expressions as: "I feel… ", “I wish…”, "I do not want to...".

Three important words that help one acquire the skills of listening and talking are: feelings, needs and wishes. These simple expressions: "I feel", "I need", and "I wish" transmit to others what we like to say about ourselves, and what we need from others to help us. For example, we could say:

"I have been feeling so stressed out and tired lately."

"I need some rest."

"I wish you could understand what this means to me, so you could help me find a way to rest."

What is more important is that a person speaks subjectively, and talks about his own feelings briefly. It is difficult for some people to acquire this skill; and they may need a lot of encouragement and patience if they are slow in this respect.

In conclusion:

In this article, we have seen the means by which we can talk to each other more effectively. Thus, instead of blaming one another, by saying "you" more than "I", it is important that one should talk positively and subjectively, i.e. about himself, by using the subjective pronoun “I” more often. This helps us express our feelings, needs and wishes, especially when learning the skills of listening and talking, and keeping the channels of communication open with the other party.

Dear husband and wife,

The best way to practice the art of communication is not to blame the other by using "you", but instead, to try to use such positive words as "I" to express our feelings, needs and wishes. An earnest attempt to change what is said or done by the other party into something positive can help one appreciate or, at least, understand them better.

For example, you could say, "I am sorry that things have been tough and difficult for you lately", or you could interrupt the speech by saying: "I can't express how happy I am that you are listening to me like this! How comfortable this makes me feel!"

"I" is intended to express one's purpose:

We can express our purpose by using phrases starting with "I" such as: "I want", "I mean", "I would like to", and "I intend to". When we fail to express ourselves clearly, this failure leads to confusion and ambiguity, for the other party would not understand our wishes and purposes.

Choosing the right words:

Long-term relationships like marriage are characterized by habits that may cause each of the spouses to be heedless of what they says to their life partner, for each partner depends, in choosing words, on habit rather than on conscious selection. Hence, words of encouragement are lost and replaced with others that lead to tension and discontentment.

The following are some of the negative frustrating expressions that are often used: "You will never change", "You're always cranky", "You're wrong, and this is not the first time." We notice that "you" is most often used to express negative words and emotions.

Examples of encouraging words and expressions are: "I love you", "I need you", "I respect the way you handle matters. I like it", "Can I help you?" We notice here that the word "I" is essential to all positive encouraging expressions.

Things to do:

1-        Train yourself to use this manner of communication with your husband this week, and remember to use "I" instead of "you", and use your emotional intelligence in your reactions and dialogue with your husband.

2-        The use of "I" instead of "you" is one of the ways you can keep communication open between you and your husband. It implies the concept of bearing responsibility, and carries positive meanings to encourage the other party to continue with the dialogue.

'You' and 'I': The Art of Communication in Marital Life – I

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