Anyone from your grandmother to your therapist will tell you that one of the keys to a happy, healthy marriage is good communication. Practicing skills such as active listening, clarity, and respect can improve a couple’s interactions many folds.
Another very useful tool for improving communications is by using “I” statements. You might have heard about them or used them in your conversations before. Let us discover everything we know and don’t know about ‘’I ‘’ statements.
What are “I” statements?
Let’s try to understand this in regard to “you” statements vs “I” statements.
An “I” statement is a method for expressing feelings that focuses responsibility on the speaker rather than on the recipient. It is the opposite of a “You” statement, which implies blame. Well then, are “I” statements in communication better than “You” statements?
Gordon’s idea of “I” statements emphasizes the importance of taking responsibility for one’s own thoughts, feelings, and needs in communication. Expressing oneself with “I” statements, reduces defensiveness, promotes active listening, and helps create a more collaborative and respectful dialogue between individuals.
What are some examples of “I” statements?
“I” statements help express your feelings and needs in a non-threatening way, promoting positive communication and understanding.
Here are some examples of “I” statements for couples:
“I feel hurt when you don’t listen to me.”
“I need some time alone to recharge.”
“I would like to have a more equal share of household chores.”
“I feel anxious when you raise your voice.”
“I need your support when I’m going through a difficult time.”
The simple purpose of using “I” statements instead of “you” is to express one’s thoughts, feelings, and needs without blaming or accusing others.
By focusing a statement on how the speaker feels rather than the actions of the recipient, the recipient is less likely to feel blamed and defensive. “I-Statements” for couples can do wonders for their relationship.
Often defensiveness can keep couples from effectiveconflict resolution. Using “I” statements In relationships can help the speaker take ownership of their feelings, which may result in the realization that those feelings are not their partner’s fault.
How to train yourself to make “I” statements during a conversation?
The simplest “I” statements make a connection between thoughts, emotions, and behaviors or events. When trying to express yourself while using “I” statements, use the following format: I feel (emotion) when (behavior) because (thought about event or behavior).
Remember that simply tacking “I” or “I feel” statements onto the front of a statement will not change the emphasis.
When you use an “I” statement, be sure that you are describing your feelings to your partner not chastising them for certain behaviors.
Your partner may not know how their behavior affects you. You should never assume that they intend for the behavior to cause bad feelings. S, it’s not just about when to use “I” statements but also how to use them.
How to make “I” statements more effective?
“You” statements tend to express feelings as facts, and the implication is that those facts cannot be changed. With an “I” statement, the speaker acknowledges that their feelings are subjective. This allows for the opportunity to change.
To get the most out of using “I” statements, focus on referring to behavior rather than the person. Don’t project a feeling into the description of your partner’s behavior. Make your statement simple and clear.
“I” statements are not resolutions unto themselves. Instead, they are an effective way to start a constructive conversation.
Once you are comfortable with a simple “I” statement, try following up by describing a change that would improve your feelings. Do not forget to listenonce you have made your statement.
Sometimes using “I” statements in relationships may still cause your partner to feel defensive. If they lash back, listen, and try to empathize with their feelings.
Repeat back what you are hearing your partner say. It may be best to disengage and return to the discussion at a later time.
How do you use “I” statements correctly?
Using “I” statements correctly during a conversation involves the following:
Begin your statement with “I feel,” “I need,” or “I would like.”
Listen actively and respond respectfully to the other person’s perspective.
Use “I” statements consistently to promote positive communication and understanding in your relationships.
Watch mental health counselor Juliana Sabatello giving tips on using ‘I feel’ statements:
We have already answered some frequently asked questions about using “I” statements, including what they are, how to use them effectively, and why they are essential communication tools in relationships. Let’s look at some extra questions that might be relevant to the topic.
Are there any disadvantages to using “I” statements?
While “I” statements are generally seen as a positive communication tool, some potential disadvantages include coming across as self-centered, using them excessively, or not taking responsibility for harmful behavior towards others.
Such concerns can be effectively addressed by seeing a professional relationship therapist or through a counselor.
What sounds like but is not an ‘’I’’ statement?
Using “you” statements in the middle of “I” statements can sound like an “I” statement altogether but is actually not. It shifts the focus onto the other person and can come across as blaming or accusatory rather than expressing one’s own thoughts, feelings, and needs.
Making conversations easier
Using “I” statements can make conversations a lot easier and better by making everyone involved listen better, be less defensive, and be more understanding. By owning our feelings, we can make our difficult discussions healthier and more positive for our relationships.
This is a part of a broader article about Anger Management Techniques, where using “I” statements is important part of talking about anger problems.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.