My girlfriend is lazy and when she gets home from work she never helps with dinner or cleaning up. But when I tell her to help me, all she gets is defensive and we only end up in an argument. Is there a healthy communication strategy that will help us?
I can tell you’re frustrated with your partner’s behavior, and I’d guess she is pretty frustrated with you too! Negotiating chores around the house is a tough subject for lots of couples who seek therapy in Bethesda. But when your request for help comes out of your mouth as a criticism, instead of a complaint, it will likely be met with defensiveness and escalation into argument. Here’s more about a healthy communication strategy that will help turn a criticism into a complaint:
A criticism is when you attack your partner’s character. A complaint is a non-blaming statement that lets your partner know how you are feeling about a specific situation. So instead of saying “You’re so lazy and you never help me! You clearly don’t care about our home or about me. I always have to do everything!” you could say “I feel resentful when I cook dinner alone and then clean up by myself too. I’d rather we did these things as a team. I know you’re tired after work, but is there a part that you’d like do together?” Using “I” statements, making your intentions clear, and paying attention to your tone and body language are key ingredients of this healthy communication strategy. Remember, it can be tough to change how you ask for help! But it’s worth the effort to express your feeling honestly and without hurting your partner’s feelings. Teammates don’t attack each other, and careful communication helps build a relationship culture of trust and mutual support.
If you know a couple who struggles with these communication problems, we hope you forward this post. Couples therapy in Bethesda MD helps couples learn how to effectively and sensitively ask for behavior changes without criticizing.