About a month or so ago, I received a DM from one of my Instagram community members and they were grateful to me for helping them have a language for something they were going through at that moment. They referenced a blog post I had written in 2017. As they stepped into that situation, they were able to analyse and have a language of how they wanted to deal with that situation and navigate through it.

There comes a time in any relationship whether it is familial or romantic, when you feel… weird. You kind of know what’s going on but you don’t quite know how to articulate or put a finger on the issue at hand. It can be emotionally depleting.

What makes it even more difficult is when you are not able to articulate your own feelings. This can tend to affect the use of your existing language towards whoever you are dealing with and ultimately could lead to conflict.

As a person who hates conflict of any kind, being able to interpret situations and articulate self has become such an important tool for me. And when I find myself in situations, I don’t have a language for or can’t interpret, I have learnt the language of asking for time to think and revert.

Language matters in being able to communicate your emotions in any relationship and the use of it can form a tighter bond, increase intimacy, and help build a longer, lasting partnership.

Today, we unpack the role of language in a relationship, and how to better understand our own emotions with Psychologist, Izle Alberts.

Language manifests in different ways, it may come as words of affirmation, spending time together, physical touch, and gift giving amongst many other things. Alberts says it’s important in any relationship for all parties to understand each other’s language. If there isn’t an understanding, it will bring a lot of misconnections and disconnections in the relationship. Alberts continues to explain that every person speaks their own kind of language, through the way they perceive life.

Body Language Speaks Louder Than Words

Language is also expressed through body language. ‘’95% of our messages are conveyed through our body language. These are our facial expressions, the look in our eyes, and how we open up or close our bodies. Only about 5% is conveyed verbally. You can say one thing with your words, but your body can speak a completely different language. Therefore, it’s very important in relationships that you are aware of how you are conveying yourself nonverbally,’’ explains Alberts.

Understanding Your Emotions and Biases

“If the babies are fine, we’ll deal with everything else later…” that used to be my way of dealing with things. Suppress, suppress… as long as the children are fine.

But that eats away at you if you don’t make sense of and process your feelings and identify why you don’t want to have the real conversation.

Dr Albert says that it is also important to draw the line between understanding your emotions and being biased in situations where a partner might have opposing emotions. Albert adds that, ‘’being in a relationship doesn’t mean that you will always agree on everything. Every person will be loyal to what’s important to them. Your emotions will go accordingly. For instance, for a mom, the well-being of her kids is of the highest importance, and she will often feel very emotive about it if she is married or in a life partnership with a partner who doesn’t value spending time with the kids, but rather values providing financially for them.’’

Alberts shares the following three pointers to help us communicate our feelings better during conflict in a relationship.

Three Ways to Communicate Your Feelings Better When You Are in Conflict

  • Express Your Feelings

Refrain from pointing fingers and rather express your feelings to the next person.

  • Identify How You React to Conflict

When you identify how you react to conflict in a relationship (by being the Pleaser, Withdrawer, or Aggressor) you will understand better the changes that need to take place.

  • Initiate The ‘Apology Conversation’ (this is if you identify as an Aggressor or even Withdrawer)

The ‘Apology Conversation’ was created by marriage counsellor Paul Nyamuda. It is broken down into 4 steps using the acronym AIRR.

  • A – Admission

This is where you admit that you have done something careless to the other person.

  • I – Impact

This is where you acknowledge the impact your action has had on the other person.

  • R – Remorse

This is where you apologize for what you have done.

  • R – Restitution

This is where you say what you are willing to do to make things right.

How intentional are you about communicating your feelings better in all your relationship?

Do you have rules of engagement?

Let us know in the comment section.