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Voicing your truth – an essential relationship skill

Couples feel loved and understood more when they listen deeply and voice their truth.  These skills work hand in hand.  In this article I will explore what I mean by ‘voicing your truth’, why it is so important and some ideas about how to cultivate this skill.

What do I mean by voicing your truth?

It may seem on first inspection that it is simple and straightforward to talk with your partner about your experience, navigating your differences by saying what you like and what you don’t, what feels natural and what feels difficult.  It may seem obvious that couples need to talk through their different ways of doing things and values so that they work out how to share their life.  Relationships are co-created and require that two people share a significant portion of their lives together.


However, in my years as a couple’s therapist I have witnessed how hard people find it to ‘voice their truth’.  When I invite each partner to take a few minutes to talk about what they really want their partner to know.  Usually, they are surprised how difficult this is.

Why voice your truth?

In another blog I wrote about Having your experience.  In this I opened up an exploration of how aware we are of our moment to moment experience.  Mostly we live in automatic, or through the stories we unconsciously tell ourselves, like a painted theatre backdrop. 


Many people avoid much of their experience so that they are not aware of feelings, unmet needs and negative beliefs. The benefit of this is the ability to get on with day-to-day life, manage demanding times, reaching goals but most powerfully it serves to protect them from what they fear and what hurts.  Others find themselves consumed by their feelings, unmet needs and negative beliefs. 


What is your pattern?  How do you engage with what is around for you in relationship?  Typically couples complement each other like fire and water. Discovering what is helpful to name and how to do this so you are heard is an important process.


To skillfully voice your truth you are called to tune into what lies beneath your habitual and reactive feelings and thoughts.  Voicing your truth calls for you to find a way of speaking from a wiser perspective that takes into account the part of you that is consumed by the fight, terror, rage or grief and the observing part of you that can witness your distress.  This can help you accept your distress and take care of it … name it, voice it and find more creative ways of asking for what you want.

In the heat of an argument

Massive, but familiar, rows can seem to erupt from nowhere.  Once the touch paper is lit the original problem can vanish leaving both parties fighting. 

It usually is not significant how the argument started but once relational wounds are triggered we go into familiar ways to protect ourselves. Painful emotions run high, even if entirely unconscious, and our survival responses kick in with fight or flight.

If only you could get your partner to hear you, understand you or stop doing what they are doing you imagine you would feel safe again or loved again.  I will write more about this when I focus on the reactive dynamic.


When we are triggered, we are off centre and what we say or do is more about self-protection than connection.  Until you are able to re-ground and centre you will be endlessly lost in the power struggle.


I have recorded a short meditation to help you take time to calm and support yourself in the event of being triggered.  With this meditation I invite you to notice the stormy waves of your emotions triggered by your partner or situation and to allow yourself to discover the deeper wounding from the calmness of the still ocean beneath.

How can you voice your truth in ways your partner can hear you?

Sharing feelings and asking for what you want

Facing injustice, assumptions or blind spots in relationship is hard but any healthy relationship depends on fairness and care.  Speaking how you feel is being vulnerable and this comes with the risk of feeling judged, shamed or rejected. 


Remember that we are all fallible and we don’t have to be faultless to ask for something important from our loved one.  Often we are asking for recognition of something that most people struggle with.


Remember that we are all flawed human beings and it doesn’t make us bad people.  Both your needs matter.


What are you hoping for in speaking?  What is it that you really want them to know?  If your loved one gets to know how you feel they will more likely want to find out how they can help you. 

Creating a culture of appreciation

Are you committed to being kind, honest and to take yourself seriously? 


Voicing your truth is in the service of making your relationship as good as it can be. When relationships hit difficulties, which all do, it is good for each person to know that they are essentially ok.  This enables both people to be generous and to be more able to hear the other constructively rather than taking it personally.


When we are appreciating each other regularly it is more possible to feel that negative feedback is in service of making the relationship as good as it can be. 


What is it that you love about your partner, your relationship and yourself? 


How often do you notice what is good and voice it?  Take some time to jot down what comes to mind.  It may be helpful to think about who you fell in love with or remember all the lovely things you appreciated back then.


Speaking with warm regard will help them hear you constructively when you talk about things that have upset you rather than taking what you have to say personally.

Accept responsibility for your feelings and needs

You are more likely to get a positive response if you are recognising your personal responsibility.  “These are my feelings and my needs and I hope that you care enough to help with this.” Check out the state of mind from which you are speaking.  Are you coming from anger, resentment or fear?  Are you holding any unconscious or conscious motivation to blame them? Acknowledging and owning this helps you take responsibility for YOUR feelings instead of being defensive.


Often sharing feelings about a current event illuminates what you have feared or felt all your life.  This kind of conversation deepens both you and your loved one’s understanding and enables the potential for deep healing.


Staying grounded

Are you calm enough to breathe or feel your toes if you wiggle them?  Speaking from your centre enables you to discover more about yourself in talking through your experience.


If you notice that your partner is not listening it may be important to voice what is happening for you in the ‘now’.  Check out if they need anything to be able to listen.  If you feel they are being defensive it may be more helpful to end the conversation and ask that you both can make a time to come back to this.


Are you demanding or wielding entitlement for change?  If so, you are likely to end up back in the power struggle.  Demanding change usually doesn’t work, at least not long term.  If invitations and requests for essential change are ignored or dismissed it leaves you with difficult choices to make about how to take care of yourself.


Voicing your truth makes up one of my 4 essential relationship skills that include Listening Deeply, Having Your Experience and Loving Responsibly.


Please feel free to get in touch if you wish to discuss support for your relationship.

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