New Parents Struggling to Communicate?
8 Key Questions for Blame-Free Conversations
New parents and couples with young children often struggle with patience and goodwill, especially when dealing with the multiple decisions that are part of everyday family life with young children.
Who does what? Childcare, schedules, finances and household chores are among the conflict-laden discussions that confront many new parents.
What can help you have more blame-free conversations that lead to more productive discussions, and ultimately helps you resolve conflicts without blaming?
You know the feeling. You are smack in the middle of a fight with your partner and you’re feeling terrible and wanting to shut down, or you are so angry that you fight back. You may even start to question why you are with this person. Stop! This will only lead to an escalated or shut down conversation that will lead you nowhere.
Referring to Lucy Freedman’s work on the Blame Frame to Outcome Frame, at this point you are probably asking yourself the following questions that are keeping you stuck in the same old, blaming pattern:
“What is the problem?”
“Why is this situation happening?”
“Whose fault is it that this problem is happening?”
“How long has it been going on?”
“What other things in my life are affected because of this situation?”
“How am I feeling?”
These questions can often be the result of your brain being stuck on emotional override, and your gear shift got stuck on negative thinking, and blaming your partner for feeling so lousy. This will definitely get you stuck in a narrow, one-sided conversation that might make you right, but makes your partner wrong. This is a win-lose discussion.
The dilemma is that you both may be in emotional pain, and in that moment you may not be thinking clearly. You may not be realizing that youmay have a part in the fight. A common defense pattern that people use is to keep the pain outside of themselves, “So it must be your fault why I’m feeling so terrible right now!”
Does this sound familiar?
So what can you do when your brain is offline, you’re getting more irritated, or beginning to shut down? If you are really upset, then you may need to take a time out, go for a walk, take several relaxing breaths, or find a way to relax.
A good fair fighting strategy is to stop blaming your partner, take some time away from the situation, and reflect on what happened and what issue is getting triggered inside of you.
Use these 8 Key Questions for blame-free conversations:
“What do I want in this situation?”
“How do I want it to be different?”
“How will I know when this has been accomplished?”
“How might this situation be affecting my partner right now?”
“What resources do I have within myself to apply in this situation?”
“What resources outside of myself might I possibly use?”
“What specific steps should I take to start the process?”
“How am I feeling”
Once you begin thinking rationally again, because you have your whole brain back, it will help you to remember that this conflict may not just be about your partner’s behavior. You begin to notice that youare controlling the gear shift, and youare no longer limited to the up gear of fighting and anger, or the down gear of flight and withdrawal. Now you realize that you have other options in how to communicate with your partner. With this new calm, you are now in a much better place to communicate with your partner in a way that you both feel heard and understood.
Did you notice the positive difference in your emotions and attitude when you asked yourself the 8 key questions versus the “Blame-oriented” questions?
Please use the solution oriented questions in bold to help you move toward more clarity and understanding for whatever conflicts arise in your relationship. This will lead to more opportunities for understanding and connection with your partner, instead of being stuck in the same old rut of avoidance and hopelessness or escalating because of blame or anger.
Imagine how productive and clear your communication will be. Notice how much you get done as a couple team versus battling opponents.
New parents and couples with young children do benefit from these 8 key questions. I hope you will too. Please leave a comment below on what you noticed about your new discussions using the 8 key questions for blame-free conversations.
Here’s to building couple time and better conversations,
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