Using I-statements can change how you communicate with your partner.
Last week I shared a 3 minute video on blame that every couple should watch. According to Brené Brown,
“blame is simply the discharging of discomfort and pain,”
“blaming’s very corrosive in relationships.”
Corrosive and relationship in the same sentence? No, thanks.
“But how do I stop blaming? Am I just supposed to ignore when my partner does something that pisses me off?”
Well, no. Ignoring your feelings rarely make them go away or makes relationships better.
But you can find a new way to address what’s going on. That’s where the I-statement comes into play.
Blame often starts with YOU. “YOU forgot about our date night again!” “YOU always try to embarrass me in front of your friends!” “YOU told me you were going to take care of that!”
What’s the problem with YOU first? It raises defenses in the other person. YOU is like a dart flying straight at your partner. Usually, they either try to dodge it OR try to throw it back.
I-statements start with, well, “I.” They take the attack part away and turn it into our own experience (which is at the heart of the blame). I-statements sound like…
YOU forget about our date night again!
I don’t feel loved when you forget about our time together.
YOU always try to embarrass my in front of your friends!
I get really embarrassed in front of your friends when you talk to me like that.
You told me you were going to take care of that!
I feel frustrated and anxious when things don’t get done the way I thought they would.
Starting with “I” decreases the chance your partner will feel defensive and threatened. It acknowledges how you feel so your partner has the chance to understand the impact of what happened – regardless if it was their fault or not. It offers an opportunity for connection. It can change the course of the conversation.
How can you use I-statements to change the tone of conversations in your relationship? Next time you’re feeling those uncomfortable feelings and you’re ready to reach for that YOU dart, try an I-statement instead.
If you want help using I-statements in your relationship, contact me here to learn how couples counseling can help you get there!