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Use Your Voice and Say What You Want and Need in Your Relationships

Phil and Maude in fancy costumePHIL: Use your voice. You have to say it, not just think it. You have to say what you need, not just what you think other people want to hear or what you think will keep you safe. You have to say how you feel, because that is the only way to make yourself clear to other people.

To do all this, you have to know what you need and what you feel, and they can be hard to find when they are battered by years of disapproval and concealed behind a mass of social expectations. This isn’t, of course, license to run your mouth like Joan Rivers; what we say has to be balanced against the impact it has on others, but with partners and friends, those social graces only get in the way of feeling connected.

This can be a challenge. I grew up in a family of unspoken subjects and coded language. Sex was never spoken of. “Would you like another slice of cake?” had the subtext that two slices is greedy. Maude grew up in a household of love and directness, and when she says something, that is the case; there is no hidden agenda. I can’t tell you how freeing, how liberating this is; what security I find in knowing that the ground will not move beneath my feet.

I strive to offer the same in return. I think that for many people, finding our wants and needs is a constant challenge to dive deep. I try to recognize and set aside social graces, masculine stoicism and my upbringing, relax those barriers and find my voice.

By both of us speaking in this way, we have absolute trust in each other, and the consequence is a peaceful relationship because any differences are in plain sight and can be resolved because at base, each of us wants to be in a relationship of this sort.

You might have started your relationship like this, but you switched the focus to work or pulled back because of the sting of squabbles and built a wall of privacy where you can hide. Ask yourself if this is the case and if you want to continue this way, or if you want to use your voice and be fully heard and seen.

MAUDE: Two things happened this week which brought up an important topic for us. It’s our wedding anniversary week, and an old friend came into town and we spent several hours sharing what’s going on for each of us. The theme that emerged was how vital it is to your relationships to use your voice.

We are speaking here about using your voice to say how you feel, what you think, and what you need. We are speaking about doing this from a loving, calm place, one of being centered within yourself. Whether you are in a long term relationship as we are, or seeking a partnership as she is, whether your issues are with relatives or friends, using your voice to speak your truth is central to peaceful harmonious relations.

Before that is possible, you have to have spent time both getting to know yourself and of being comfortable with speaking who you are. When you can express yourself freely without demands and without making it about the other person, you create a rich field of connection, filled with honesty and truth.

This kind of sharing and exchange in turn creates a sense of security. Phil describes my behavior in the relationship as offering this openness, and says it gives him a strong sense of ease to know that what is being said is what is meant.

The knowledge that you do not need to have your guard up, that you can take the person at what they say, rather than watching out for land mines and coded messages brings this peace.

In longer term relationships, it is important to maintain this ability to speak with each other in this manner and not to forget it in the busyness of life and the passing of time. In developing relationships, it is important to build in the ability to speak and be heard and to listen and look for understanding. If you are not sure of what you are hearing from the other, ask questions. If something causes disharmony, use your voice to share how you feel. Always make it about your feelings, not the other person’s actions.

This can be tricky; it takes consciousness, and the knowledge that you are both on the same side helps, too. You both want to know how the other feels. We all want to be heard and to be seen and have what we communicate count.

When we can master this art of the gentle and honest use of our voices, we will find a beautiful harmony arising.

Photo credit: Mike Braniger
Photo note: Phil and Maude in fancy costume

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Successful Relationship Reading Corner

Books on shelfThis week, we wrote about using your voice and saying what you want and need in your relationships. Here is some good advice on how to overcome your inhibitions and find your voice.

The Courage to Speak Your Truth ~ 5 Steps to Reclaiming Your Voice "This may be you… At some point in your life you made the decision that it was no longer safe to speak your truth. In your early years, speaking up led to a scolding from your parents, or worse. Their censure caused pain and engendered a belief in you that speaking up would create even more pain. This belief compelled you to withhold and question your voice from then on."

How to Say What You Want in Your Relationship "In my 30 years working with couples, I’ve noticed that most people have an easy time describing what they don’t want in their relationship. If prompted, they’re able to rapidly fire off the many issues that they feel are creating distance between them and their partner. Yet, if I ask the same people what they do want in their relationship or from their partner, it seems to catch them off guard."

How To Find & Speak Your Voice In Your Relationship "Ultimately, finding and developing your voice is about taking responsibility for who you are, your identity, your values, what you care about and the battles that you deem worth fighting in your relationship. It’s understanding the vision you have for your relationship, the impact you want to have in your relationship, understanding what your partner cares about and what you need to master in order to connect fully with your partner."

Spreading peace one relationship at a time
Phil and Maude
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