Questions this week underline the importance of communication in your relationship.
Dear Mary Jo,
How to you encourage your partner to talk with you instead of at you?
Talking at your partner instead of with them happens when one of the spouses is more controlling than the other. Sometimes that’s a personality trait, but many times when feeling stressed, frustrated or hurried it’s easy to give orders or talk at someone instead of taking your time and talking with them. The partner who feels talked at begins feeling disrespected and resentful thus withdrawing. This causes the controlling partner to exert control more. When or if this happens in your relationship, put yourself at eye level with the controlling spouse and tell them you don’t appreciate being talked at. Being direct and firm with your response and giving them your full attention when they talk with you will help change their negative pattern.
Dear Mary Jo,
In a second marriage how does the new spouse incorporate their partner’s past relationships, and make a place for themselves with their spouse.
Your spouse’s past contributes to the person they are and the one you fell in love with. Going into a marriage when your spouse has been married before makes it more important that you emotionally support him, but yet make time for yourselves as a couple. Everyone wants a piece of his time and he may feel guilty saying no, which makes communication and date nights even more important. Keeping his confidence and working toward building bridges with his kids and family will go much further than building a wedge of resentment and isolation. Building a network of close friends you can talk to and enjoying social activities will help you feel more supported and less alone.