How to talk so your partner listens and your stepfamily thrives
Lots and lots of us in stepfamilies find it difficult to talk through sensitive issues with our partner. Sometimes it seems impossible to communicate without arguments over the children or the ex partner.
How does this impact our ability to work effectively as a 'family team'?
Difficult communication usually results in leaving us feeling like life in a stepfamily is a hard slog. The thing is, if we don't talk things through we will never manage to sort things out.
Is communication harder for men?
In John Grey's amazing book, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus (available from Amazon - click here). We know that the Martians on Mars are fixers and if they can't fix it they go to their cave, on their own, and mull it over until they can fix it.
Woman on the other hand tend to want to talk about their feelings and just want to be listened too. Often we don't want fixes, we just want understanding.
When men hear we are feeling upset about something they want to fix it but they may not always know how so they can prefer not to talk about it at all.
In a stepfamily there are likely to be a whole array of deep running emotions. Many of these need exploring, understanding and at times dealing with. And this is where it can become challenging for a man that finds it difficult to talk about such things, even with the love of his life - you.
For example, my own partner recently he told me that sometimes, even though he knows I have a valid point can't talk about it. That's because he isn't quite sure how he'll handle it. As a result he withdraws from the conversation - occasionally for weeks! He's explained to me that it's not because he's avoiding the issue it's just that he doesn't yet know how to solve it yet.
This is an important insight into the mind of the male.
Because men are fixers, they can seem defensive when it comes to matters connected to their emotions - especially when it's as emotive as their children. This could occur in a variety of ways from becoming defensive over their children or even over their children's mother. Their defences are simply a way of protecting themselves, maybe from pain or maybe from acknowledging their perceived shortcomings.
If we fail to talk to someone experiencing these strong emotions in the right way we could simply become the catalyst for them feeling like they need to add more barriers to their defences. This results in them shutting us out.
What's the long-term impact?
The more often they close down, the more we become perceived as being the enemy.
By understanding this it can help us to help them, which in tern helps our relationship and ultimately our stepfamily. If we can show empathy, compassion and understanding we can make them feel safe and secure in talking things through. They'll feel they can open up without judgement or criticism.
Here are a few suggestions that will help you help your partner talk.
Also become aware of how you approach your partner on subjects that cause them difficulty. It is a far less confrontational way of going about things if you can come from your own perspective first, which brings us on to …
Make a pact
Until next time.
For a free report, "7 Secrets For Building a Solid Stepfamily and succeeding as a Stepparent", including tips and ideas that you can use immediately with your stepfamily visit www.TheStepfamilyCoach.com and we'll send your copy now!