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Building communication strategies with my partner

Community Member
Hi all,

First time poster here πŸ™‹πŸΌβ€β™‚οΈ.

I have suffered from anxiety and depression for most of my life, stemming from physical abuse as a child, and this has manifested itself in relationship issues.

Over the last 6 months I have been seeing a psychologist to help me overcome these issues, but 2 months ago I had a breakdown and broke up with my partner, who I have been with for the past 2 years.

It was a huge wakeup call for me that I need to really double down on my efforts to overcome these crippling demons and I've added things like practicing mindfulness and journalling into my daily routine.

My (now former) partner is incredibly understanding and supportive and we have agreed to once a week catch ups to see if she's willing to try again (I certainly am), but a huge thing for her is to build an effective communication strategy so as I don't bottle things up in future and we end up in the same place again where I just flip and call things off.

My question is, has anyone got any particular strategies they use to openly and honestly communicate with their partner to help them? I'm really determined to beat this and be with the woman I love so now matter how left-field you think a suggestion may be, I'm keen to hear it. I'm just trying to find out how we can stay strong in the future.

Thank you πŸ™‚
20 Replies 20

Hey RT,

Love the metaphor, I think it's perfect. I think for me the challenge is actually noticing when I'm stuck in the pattern, because it's always a gradual decline so I never notice the shift, and then being able to make that shift. I guess is where I need the support from my partner to say "hey, everything's not ok here". Would you agree? The vulnerability is something I really want to work on, even if it's terrifying. The more I read into it the more I'm seeing vital it is for healthy, sustainable relationship.

In respect of the choice point, I would say previously I've subconsciously decided that I can't sit with the feelings but I'm very determined to change that...although it's frustrating that I feel like it'll take a lot of time (and therapy). As a typical male, I want everything to be fixed right now ha.

Thanks mate. Yes do! I'd be keen to hear your thoughts on it if you get a chance to pick it up


Hey smallwolf,

That's a great idea, thank you for sharing! I think might partner may find the material as bit "out there" but she'd recognise its importance to me. I don't think I would've thought to suggest that, so thank you.

I'll check them out. As I'm not a big reader, and I have 2 already on the go, I think I'll wait a little bit as I'm conscious of overloading myself with things and feeling overwhelmed with tasks. I'll certainly add them to my reading list (/create a reading list ha).


Hi GM,
Hmm, I'll have to think on that. It's hard- trying to embrace and implement this new concept when there's no concrete steps. It could be a little trial and error, and absolutely if you think your partner can help go for it.
Sounds silly but go with it for a second - if you were to close your eyes and imagine what it's like to have a really healthy and sustainable relationship with your partner with vulnerability and connection and honesty.. what would that look like for you? What would it feel like, how would you know, how would you interact, what might you say..? Maybe those questions could give you a little starting point.
Oh totally normal! I went to therapy yesterday and I said "I hate it" even though I'm willingly going and paying for it! If I knew a quick fix I would share it with you I promise ha
I already have the book downloaded on my computer- my reading list is far far too long!

Hey RT,

Yeah trial and error might be the way to go. I have to keep reminding myself to take a breath and remember that this whole thing is a marathon, not a sprint and I will stumble and things won't work straight away (as frustrating as that is).

Tbh with you, the thought of being able to have a relationship with peak vulnerability, honesty and connection sounds both scary as hell and perfect at the same time, as weird as that sounds. It's highly unfamiliar (as in, I've never had it) but it's something that I desperately want. In terms of how would I know I'm there, honestly, I have no idea because I've never been there before. I don't know if there'd be a sudden action or if it would be a realisation one day that made me notice I'm there. I have a very romanticised version of waking up one morning, looking at her and realising, but I also know I don't live in a Disney movie haha. In terms of what I would say, probably just "thank you". I'd be so utterly grateful for helping me get there and for wanting to be the person along with me. I also realise those questions may have been for private reflection but I want to express answers to help me bring them into the real world, as such. Hope you aren't rolling your eyes!

Haha, I've said those words more than once. Hey, if we knew the secret to the quick fix, we'd be very rich people haha!

Good to hear, I'm glad you've got a good, healthy habits like that.


I have more to say, but will do that later on.... After i read your reply to RT you mentioned how scary and perfect it would be. That is the something I agree with.

When I had to the talk about suicidal thoughts or discussions based on prompts from my psychologist, I had no idea how my wife would respond to what I was saying.... would she understand? how would she react? would she think me crazy?

(I was also speaking to someone recently on talking to his wife about some issues he was having. For him this was something he felt he could not do.Keep in mind they are in a older generation compared to me)

After each conversation though I had a feeling of relief. The conversation went OK. It felt like a weight lifted from me. And perhaps a stronger/deeper relationship.That leap of faith, or showing vulnerability is worth it. I hope it works out for you,

Also we would never roll our eyes.... if you knew what brought me to be on the forums here.

Hey smallwolf,

I really appreciate that response because those exact feelings are the exact same as the ones I'm having before speaking to my partner. I'm really glad for you that it worked out!

I don't know if we're the same generation (I'm 29) but I keep flipping between "what have I got to lose" and "this is too big, I can't do it". However, I actually had a bit of an anxious episode today and after calming down I decided to follow rt's advice and give it a crack.

I reached out to my partner, even starting with "I know you'll think this is crazy but" and told her all about the feelings across the day. She was super supportive about it and I was very much relieved! I've honestly never divulged that much info about an episode to someone before, other than my psyche, so it felt massive but luckily it paid off!

Trying to find the courage to be the Man In The Arena!


I am really happy that it worked out for you.

And I am about 20 years on you. πŸ™‚

I went through many years of my life where I was told I don't care about what you have to say so I didn't bother to tell anyone what I was going through. So when you are challenged as I was by my psychologist you are never quite sure of the reaction. I am not telling you this for a pity party. Rather that you had the courage to tackle your issues head on and spoke to your partner. And since you like Brene Brown...

"Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen."

Hey smallwolf,

Thank you :). I'm still worried about getting a negative reaction, or even just a reaction that wasn't intended to be negative but I've had a bad day and read it that way. Have you had this?? How do/did you work to overcome it? Sorry for probably what seem like basic questions, I'm still new to dealing with all this.

I didn't take that as a pity party, I sincerely appreciate all the help you've both given me. Although, with the greatest of respect, I still feel like "ahh, I can't believe I have to turn to strangers on the internet for help and I can't deal with it on my own, how pathetic". It's all still annoying and frustrating!

Community Member

Dear GingerMan505, I am truly inspired by your post and thank you for sharing.

I had years of abuse from my own parents as a child and suffered from depression for many years since my teens.

most recently I was referred to a psychologist and she tried to manipulate me by using my abuse history and my concerns. It left me seriously lost and disheartened.

communication with my husband is so hard. He’s such a trigger happy person and doesn’t understand tough childhood or someone who suffered abuse.
sometimes I feel so hallow and empty and pointless when I have such a beautiful son and a daughter (babies).

fundamentally I feel more connected to someone with similar experience to mine. But my subconscious decision for my partner is always someone completely opposite to me.


@GingerMan505 - I will try to answer all your questions....

Every combination is possible - my day can start well and turn bad, go from bad to bad, etc. It will depend on what is said to me and so triggers. Or a feeling of being overwhelmed with what I have to do. Am I over it? Short answer, NO. I refer to myself as a work in progress, which get is from one day to the next. Each time I have to talk to my wife, I get that thought wondering about the reaction I will get. If you are used to getting negative feedback it may take longer to reverse.

There are no dumb or basic questions. By analogy, you could be the person in the classroom that asks the question that everyone else is afraid to ask. Please do not be afraid to ask questions here. And you might turn to the Internet, I turn to my psychologist. Finally, my fear in talking to my wife is that I REALLY know my thoughts are illogical, I "should' be able to deal with them etc

@malula, hi and welcome. Fwiw, I feel I can communicate better with my psychologist or psychiatrist re mental health stuff than I can with family. Why? Perhaps because they have had the training in things like active listening, are non-judgemental etc. And I tell them things I would not dare tell others. If I could ask a question ... when you so do speak with your husband, does he listen and respond appropriately? Or does it he tell you to get over it? Or perhaps just does not respond? The last can be hurtful; sometimes people just don't know how to respond. I have had all three types of responses.