While I believe there are better ways to speak to one's partner than most of us utilize, the most important element in a successful "Conversation" is not the "psychologically correct" words, but rather your attitude.
Are you communicating anger, distrust, contempt even though you may be saying the right words or not yelling? Are you disgusted or feeling hopeless with your efforts to reach your spouse? Are you not really listening? Are you already formulating your answer or some form of defense to what your partner is sharing as he/she is still speaking? What does your body language say? Eyes rolling? Glazing over? Arms crossed? Not making eye contact?
Attitude is Everything.
So what does a good attitude for the listener look like?
When your partner is sharing, you make him/her the most important person(you put your own thoughts and feelings to the background while you listen). You want to know and understand what is of concern to the one you love. Why is she/he feeling a certain way? What can you do to help improve the situation? You want to ackowledge that your partner's experience is valid even though you may not understand it or agree with it. You want to just listen if that is what is being asked. If a response is being requested, you want to think before you talk and take time to consider your partner's point of view and not make a knee-jerk defensive comment. Your goal is to create a space in the relationship in which your partner ends up feeling you care and are trying to consider his/her concerns.
How do you know if you have been a successful listener?
Your partner tells you that she/he feels listened to and understood. This does not mean you agree with everything shared but you are not dismissing her/his point of view or negating her/his experience of your relationship.
Next Week: Good Attitude on the part of the speaker