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    One Page of Relationship Choices

    “Being heard 
is so close to being loved 
that for the average person, 
they are almost indistinguishable.”

    - David Augsburger 

     Attack (also called Defend or Debate) You express some of what you think or feel but not much.  Any of these examples likely makes your partner into an enemy and you keep attacking each other.

                     When you Attack you hit below the belt. “How come you always criticize about how I do chores? It’s never good enough for you.

    Defend protects you or your actions, “If you didn’t get mad, I’d be calm and not yell back.”

    In using Debate you might say, “I speak up to your parents about how they treat you. What are you are doing about speaking up to them?

     Avoid (also Stonewalling or Withdrawing) You avoid topics or talking to your partner. You hide out, escape with friends, walk on eggshells to not really discuss topic. When this keeps happening couples feel like “roommates”.

    When you Avoid your partner, you don’t respond. They say, “ I feel really lousy today.” You don’t look at them; say “hmmm” or other signs that show you are listening.

    In Withdraw you exit the room or say “We’ll talk about it later.” (Later never comes.) Or you stop telling the partner your feelings/thoughts.

    Better Choice Speaker/Listener  is a process of going back and forth between Speaking and Listening. One person is a Speaker who is listened to without interruption. The Listener does not advise and uses empathy (but does not parrot back exactly the same words to the Speaker).

    Each partner states not only his or her thoughts but also real feelings. 

     Speaker: I had a really hard day at the office and feel burnt out.


    Listener: Boy are you beat.  That office is really hard to deal with, you seem exhausted.

     Very Best Choice Confiding happens in a relationship when Speaker/Listening skills are used appropriately and goes beyond to Vulnerable statements. Notice that the parts of the examples below in italics are harder to say and admit. Use something similar to these examples below. Amazing communication happens with Confiding. This choice leads to intimacy, which is terrifying in relationships but the Very Best Choice. Confiding fosters closeness.

    Learn the most vulnerable feeling way to disclose your vulnerability in your relaitonship. Here are some examples.

     “I am embarrassed when you ask me to listen to you. I don’t know how”.

    “When you ask me to initiate sex, I feel scared that you will criticize me.”

    Your mother is great.  It is hard to be with her though because of her good career. I compare myself to her, I don’t measure up to her accomplishments or salary.”