How to Communicate Effectively in a Relationship

Are you on the receiving or giving side of the following communication styles ……?

Critical – verbally attacking partner’s personality, behaviour, character.

Contemptuous – deeper than criticism. Attacking partner’s self worth, self confidence with intent to hurt.

Defensiveness – trying to reverse blame, victimising yourself.

Stonewalling – withdrawing as a way of avoiding difficult situations or demonstrating disapproval. 

Therapy can help adjust unhelpful communication patterns and think more about:

  • Expressing yourself using ‘I’ statements and clarifying what you want and need without criticism.
  • Avoiding mixed messages.
  • Appreciating your partner’s good qualities. 
  • Taking responsibility for your part in any conflict and apologising when in the wrong.
  •  Taking a break, self soothing, calming and paying attention to ‘timing’ of difficult conversations. Being conscious of the difference between this and avoidance.
  •  Reducing over reactions when anxious or upset. 
  • Holding on to a clear sense of self and tolerating discomfort.

Separation from a child’s perspective



My dear parents,

You’ve decided to separate and will be living in separate houses now. I’m very young and there’s a lot of things I don’t understand yet.

It would help me so much if you let me:-

  • Love and like both of you.
  • Enjoy time with both of you separately.
  • See you coming together to my school concerts, activities and parent evenings.
  • Move without stress from one house to another.
  • Be your child. I’m not your confidante, friend or therapist.

It upsets me and makes me feel bad if you:-

  • Say horrible things about the other to me.
  • Talk to me about money.
  • Ask me loads of questions about my time with mum/dad.
  • Argue in front of me or when I can hear.
  • Ask me to keep secrets or to lie.
  • Interrogate me about new partners.
  • Ask me to make decisions that I’m too young to make.

Please free me from:-

  • Passing on messages between you.
  • Thinking I have to protect you. It’s your job to protect me.
  • Feeling guilty. Adult decisions are your responsibility not mine.
  • Being a referee or a mediator.

With love from,

Your child