Updated: Aug 25, 2018
Finally a day off with your honey*! You’ve been looking forward to this all week. Sure, you’ll want to get some chores and possibly some errands done but in your head you’ve planned a night to reconnect. You’re in the kitchen making coffee for you both so you can get the day started right! Your partner comes in, fully dressed, ready to leave the house.
As your partner opens the front door, they say, “I just got a call about a half hour ago, I said I didn’t have plans so I’m gonna go, is that OK? It’s not like we planned anything. I’ll be home later tonight, besides you always say you don’t get enough alone time!”
Stunned. You say it’s OK but really you feel dismissed, angry, and now solely responsible for the chores and errands that do actually need to get done. So they go. You’ll talk about this later.
Meanwhile, how are you going to handle you?
How are you going to speak with them later?
How is this going to be solved in the future?
Handle YOU First
You have the day free. You could do the responsible thing - chores, errands, etc. You could do that because it needs to be done, but unless something is time sensitive, I would press you to wait until they can share in the responsibilities. Ask yourself, how many able bodied people are in our household? That’s how many people it should take to run it. You could also spend your whole day wrapped up in your feelings - depressed, mopey, angry, plotting revenge. We all know that’s a waste of time, so do what you need to do to get out of that funk and into a productive mindset.
So, what to do with the free time?
1: Do anything that is time sensitive, don’t shirk any responsibilities that must be done
2: Make a list of your favorite activities (include children and pets if applicable), Prioritize
3: Do one of your top five favorite activities (according to logistics, of course)
Can’t think of your favorite activities? Search online for “fun things to do today” and add your city name. If necessary, add other qualifiers like, “fun free things..”, “things for kids…”, “things for dogs…”, “women’s meetups today…”, etc. Personally, if I get a day off, I like to just relax!
I will add here, now that today is all about you, try not to text them throughout the day unless absolutely necessary - just focus on you.
Before They Return Home
So hopefully you’ve had a great day, you’ve put yourself first and either had a day to remember or were able to finally wind down. They’re coming home soon and your original emotions begin to return as well. How we express ourselves in this moment is key to opening further communication and setting precedents. The ultimate emotional goal here is to remain grounded and calm so that you can create an emotional memory (like muscle memory) for dealing with arguments in the future. Remember that we cannot control their reactions but we can control ours.
In an effort to stay in line with your communication goals:
1: Make a plan for how you’d like to react and whether or not you want to address the issue when they get home. Shutting down, silent treatment, or excessive anger are not options.
2: Envision that plan; your tone, feeling centered and open, and happy they’re home safe.
3: Create a plan b. What if they’re not positively responding to you? Create a plan that takes care of you. Yes that possibly means more alone time, but as you practice your independence within the relationship, you will eventually celebrate this time. A plan b could also include a specific date or time they would be willing to discuss this issue with you.
A Plan for Future Communication
In an ideal world we all have partners that are receptive, assertive, and communicative. Obviously this world isn’t perfect and we each have a large spectrum of emotions, expectations, and communication downfalls. Sometimes we think faster than we speak and our thoughts hit our heart so hard it’s difficult to get the words out. Difficulty is compounded when we add the importance associated with having them successfully integrated into our lives. We desperately wish our partner could read our minds, hearts, and spirits to fully understand how we feel and how they impact us. Instead..
We shut down.
We act out.
We walk away.
We fall silent.
We get mad.
We give up.
The initial explosion of these fiery emotions can feel cathartic and can possibly be followed up by a romantic honeymoon phase; however, the yo-yo relationship model is unstable, creates resentment, and doesn’t actually change the underlying issues.
So how do we fix this issue? How do we express ourselves so we’re heard?
1: Practice Empathy
2: Take time to process your response. Regardless of their emotions, remain calm for you. You can acknowledge their feelings, you can validate if you feel it’s necessary, but you don’t have to give in to unhelpful behaviors or attitudes.
3: Be solution oriented.
If you’re doing all three of these things: understanding where they’re coming from, expressing yourself calmly, and finding a solution; you should at least begin to take notice of a new style of communication.
Move! It’s scientifically proven when your body’s moving, your brain is moving! If you or your partner feel stuck in an opinion, go for a walk, walk side by side and open up a dialogue.
Set boundaries! This might not have happened in the first place if you both would have had a conversation about expectations and boundaries. Expectations about behaviors, how shared time off should be spent, getting rid of assumptions (if you think it, say it; assuming almost always leads to frustration), checking with your partner before you agree to a new engagement or commitment, etc. should all be discussed.
Show Gratitude! Express to your partner how much you care for them, how happy you are they’re in your life, do something special for them. If they feel having you in their life is valuable, it’s likely they’ll see value in improving communication.
As always, I’d love to hear your success stories or questions!
*This post could be used toward any type of relationship, not just romantic. The point is to set clear boundaries and expectations to create a balanced relationship.