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Why I Love “I” Statements in Couples Therapy and You Should Too!

Shawna Crabill, Marriage Therapist, Family Therapist, Individual Therapist, Couple Therapist, Therapist

In the helping profession, I have the chance to work with a lot of individuals and couples and while I can’t pick a favorite, I can say that there is a part of couple’s therapy that I just can’t get enough of! That’s helping people feel heard.

What’s the problem?

Not feeling heard is one of the biggest complaints I hear on a regular basis, whether it’s said outright, or I’ve helped those in relationships what the root of their issues is. There are many things that can simply sour even the best-intentioned couples.

Some of those things are hurt feelings, misunderstandings, and distrust. To put it simply, it can be harder than one would think to just communicate effectively. After all, if it was so simple, everyone would be doing it and it wouldn’t be plaguing relationships across the nation.

What’s the solution?

One of the absolute best tools I believe in with couples is using “I” statements for effective communication. These statements are designed to help us feel more secure within ourselves as we also get our point across in a much more clear, effective way.

An “I” statement is essentially the opposite of a “you” statement. The purpose of these statements is giving our partners information about us in a non-threatening manner. The key is to become connected, create a healthy environment, and build trust. All of which begins with “I” statements.

Here are some examples of threatening “you” statements and how to change them into non-threatening “I” statements that convey our feelings so they can be heard without causing our partners to feel like opponents on the defense.

“You always say” … “I only hear you saying”

“You’re not listening” … “I don’t feel like you hear what I’m saying”

“You’re always angry” … “I feel that I’ve made you upset frequently”

In many ways, “I” statements are taking the power away from the argument and putting it back into the hands of the speaker so that feelings of shame, defense, resistance, and distrust are replaced with feelings of security, empathy, understanding, connectedness.

If you’re ready to learn more about how “I” statements can help heal your relationship, contact me today!


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