All couples argue. Arguing is a type of communication and it does not mean that there is less love in the relationship. However, fighting often means big emotions that can lead to hurtful statements and at worse, a loss of trust. Fighting is healthy in a relationship, as long as it is done in a constructive manner. I statements are a great way to help communicate with your partner so that an argument has purpose.
What is an I Statement?
An I Statement begins with the word I and is then followed by an emotion. For example, I feel, I think, I believe, I like, I don’t like. I Statements are used instead of phrases such as You are, You make me, You think, and You do. They put the onus on the speaker and not the person being spoken to so that there is less judgment being made. After the feeling is stated, it should then be followed up with an explanation, usually beginning with the word because.
When you use an I Statement it allows your partner to start to begin to understand your emotions and your thoughts. We all like to assume that our partners are mind readers, but if that were the case, then arguments wouldn’t need to happen. When you can start to express yourself, communication starts to happen, and an argument shifts from raw, heightened emotions, to more level-headed understanding. Issues can then be discussed and hopefully resolved.
It is far too easy to blame the other person in a relationship. But one of the hardest things to realize is that we are in control of only ourselves. We can’t change other people, but we can change our reactions to events. And if change does truly need to happen with our partner, it may be facilitated through understanding and communication. When you start a sentence with an I Statement you are admitting that part of the issue is how you feel. You are taking some ownership with the situation and saying that your feelings are important and valid. If your partner doesn’t feel attacked, then they will hopefully add to the conversation with I Statements of their own.
When you start using I Statements they can feel unnatural. It can take a while for them to become part of your lexicon. It’s also very easy to forget to use them in the first place. Try writing down a few statements when you want to bring up an issue with your partner. Writing often helps to organize thoughts and will give you a chance to really reflect on your feelings. Also try to give your partner a chance to reflect and form their own statements. This is a process. Butif you both realize what you are trying to do, you can help to support each other.