As with many other issues in relationships and communication, the best starting point tends to be an open and honest conversation. If what your partner is doing is really affecting you, then it’s important you try to address the situation rather than brush things under the carpet.
Not talking is the biggest cause of resentment in long-term relationships, so even when it’s awkward or difficult, it really is the better option when it comes to resolving issues. You may find that your frustration comes out in other ways anyway – so better to head difficulties off before they get worse.
Our three communication tips to try with your partner is a good starting point for having this kind of conversation. These tips will help you think about ways to talk without things turning into an argument, and to express yourself in a way that your partner is likely to engage with, rather than become defensive.
The benefits of talking things over are twofold: firstly, you’ll be able to express how you’re feeling, and secondly, you’ll be able to get a better understanding of what your partner thinks. If punctuality or getting prompt replies to your texts is important to you, you may be able to help your partner appreciate this better. Conversely, coming to understand that your partner doesn’t necessarily do these things to hurt you may help you feel less aggrieved if they do happen to exhibit the behaviours in future.
However, if your partner’s behaviour is at the more serious end of the spectrum, it can be a good idea to proceed with caution. If you feel like your partner is unlikely to respond well to a broad discussion of their behaviours, it can be an idea to focus on individual instances. That way, you can begin to talk about what you’re finding difficult with a smaller risk of them shutting the conversation down. Of course, in some cases, they may be unwilling to talk no matter how carefully you try to express yourself. At this point, it’s worth thinking hard about how much more of this behaviour you’d be willing to tolerate. One question we often ask in counselling is: ‘if this was still happening in one year, how would you feel?’