Ep 13: Communicate Better, Part 1

One of the top reasons couples start to waiver in their relationship is because they don’t know how to communicate after the fairy tale feelings fade away.

We feel overwhelmed, hurt, and unheard in our conversations. And then we tell ourselves stories that we’re not a good match, that our partners don’t care about us, and that we’re just not compatible anymore.

But Communication is an art. And the way to get better at any art is to practice. However, it’s helpful if you understand some helpful tips and have the tools necessary to practice! 

So in today’s episode, you’ll learn about the importance of knowing your different communication styles. Are you an internal processor or an external processor? What about your partner? Let’s find out and learn to work with your differences instead of against them!

What You’ll Learn From This Episode

  • The two main styles of communication
  • The importance of accepting you and your partners style
  • How journaling can help you to process big decisions ahead of time. 
  • Giving yourself and your partner space to process difficult discussions can change everything. 

If you want help implementing the tools I teach, I would be honored to be your life coach. Working with a coach helps you to create change quicker, easier, and with more fun along the way! Are you ready to create a more Joyful Love in your own Life and Marriage? Then click here to find out more.

Mentioned On The Show:

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Podcast Transcript:

Hey I’m Rachael Cunningham! And you’re listening to joyful Love … Episode 13!

Hello friends, How are you? I am really really good. The weather is amazing right now. And Most of my mornings are spent outside on my back porch and it’s been glorious!  It’s been a nice 70 degrees with very little humidity in the mornings lately ….

I’ll stay out there to journal and do some yoga, and to meditate for a bit. And if it’s not TOO hot, I’ll stay out there for a while to get some work done. It’s my favorite place on earth.

I live in a modest 1970’s neighborhood with bigger than normal yards. Most people who live here built their own homes in the 70’s and never moved. So I have a lot of elderly neighbors.

So It’s pretty quiet and I hear the birds chirping all day. And the neighborhood backs up to a large wooded area, so at night we get families of deer that visit us a lot!

It’s not perfect. But it’s mine and right now … this modest home with a touch of nature is where it’s at for me.

And I love everything about it.  So …. Learning to enjoy my back porch is one of the reasons I’m feelin’ good today!

Another reason I’m good is that for the past month, my husband and I have been working towards a decision on something really big!

We’ve been taking turns talking through all the what if’s and expressing our doubts and concerns and hopes and inspirations mixed in together ….

And then we’d take some breaks from discussing this big decision together so we could process on our own.

And let me be honest … it was me that asked for the break to process on my own. Because I’m an internal processor and cris is the external processor … so to make decisions about our lives ..  we have to respect each others ways of processing.

So then… after a little break for me ..we came back together and picked up the discussion again.

And one thing I’ve had the opportunity to  learn on a deeper level over this past month is that making Big decisions together can be an amazing growing opportunities.  

Those discussions are sacred moments.

As a couple, when we’re trying so hard to come to a decision together … we can start to tell ourselves lots of stories!

I noticed as we were working through this , anytime cris would have some doubt … my brain would interpret that as a reason to doubt myself.

I found so many opportunities these past several weeks to practice being present with our communication. Instead of bringing in all of our past circumstances, or my past self-doubting, and Instead of worrying about the future, to get through these discussions, to truly understand Cris and to truly understand myself and blend our thoughts together to make this decision was the ultimate practice in being present in this moment. Not just by myself but together with an entire other human brain.

Making decisions together is a beautiful gift … it’s sacred.

 I’m thankful to say that on this huge decision that we’ve been toying around with for about 6 months … but truly hashing out over the past month … We have finally come to a decision that we feel very, very good about.

But without the ability to stay present with each other and fully hear each other’s opinions, it could have led  to a lot of arguing it hurt feelings. But I look back over the past month and I’m really proud of us for the intention and purpose that we put behind this decision and the freedom that we gave each other to express all of our doubts and concerns so that we could uncover what we needed to to make a wise decision for ourselves.

SO today we’re gonna talk about COMMUNICATION. There are several tools to communicate better…. So this will be Part 1 …. Part one, we’ll talk about different styles and personalities …

Now there are many Many Different personality tests – Myers Briggs/ Enneagram

Those can be incredibly helpful!!

But I like to Keep it really simple.

So today we are going to talk about the 2 main styles of communication and where you and your partner fit.

The 2 Styles are Internal Processors and External Processors.

When you understand which style you and your partner fit into… you’ll understand your needs better and your communication with each other on the small stuff and the really big decisions will improve.

So … Internal Thinkers process almost everything inside their own head. They have their own private conversation, the go through all the what ifs and doubts and hopes and struggles all by themselves …  and if they’re given enough time, they’ll work out all the details of how they feel … before they speak.

This process often makes them slow to respond.

They tend to be quieter and need more time to come to a decision.

External thinkers on the other hand talk through their thinking. They process details as they hear themselves say it out loud.

But here’s the thing… External processors might talk so quickly as their thinking … that they don’t even end up agreeing with what comes out of their mouth… they are just processing out loud their initial thoughts to see how they feel on.

It’s like buying a pair of pants. … They NEED to try them on to see how they fit.

Most of you know yourself and your partner enough to understand which kind of thinker you are.

Many times in relationships it’s stereotypica to have the male be the internal processor while the female is the external processor.

But this is not always the case, of course.

I am definitely an internal processor and my husband is an external processor.

It’s important to know that there is NO better way to process. Both internal and external thinkers are beneficial in different ways for different people.  These different styles can be one of the opposites attract benefits…. When a couple knows how to use these differences FOR their relationship … it can be a really beautiful match.

But if a couple has no clue how to make this work for them … and if one or both assumes their way of communicating is better … this difference can really hold a couple back from healthy communication.

When I coach my private clients, I know they need help in understanding each others communication styles when my client says things like

“He doesn’t listen to me” or

“I just need more space”, or

“He never wants to talk to me about his feelings.”  Or even things like,

“He doesn’t respect my needs.”

I’ve personally said these same things in my own marriage many times.

I rember about a year ago… right around this time … when our highschooler was needing extra help in school,  I started feeling very overwhelmed about helping my high schooler with homework. 7 subjects is a lot and when you throw in the challenge of a kid who has a touch of ADHD, it can require a lot of hands on help.

So, I was journaling about it and processing through all the options, I came to the conclusion that if Cris would take over making sure the homework and practice for the music classes were kept up on, I could manage the other classes.

Cris is more musically inclined than I am and it just made more sense since they often write songs and play music together anyway.

I realized that if he’d take over that … then it would free me up to help our son in other areas.

I processed this all on my own. I had it all figured out.

So I told Cris… hey, I’m overwhelmed with homework and need your help with taking over the music classes.

And he IMMEDIATELY started processing OUT LOUD!

– He told me that had a lot going on right now.

-he wasn’t sure how he’d fit one more thing in.

-And he was already stressed about all the extra he was doing at that time with his business and the movie he was getting ready to shoot.

HE DID have a lot going on!

And he was processing all of this out loud to me.

Now, the old me would have done one of two things. Either backed away from conflict and said, never mind, you have too much going on… I’ll take care of it.

Right? Because there was a time that I thought I had to protect everyone from their own feelings … so it was just easier to do it all myself.

OR the second thing I might have done is to take offense at his words … at him processing outloud all the things he had to do … because I would have told myself he was just trying to back out of parenting responsibilities.

Before I understood how to watch my own brain and choose wisely the stories I tell myself .. I would have ended up in tears, asking Cris, Why can’t you understand that I need help too?

We’re both the parents here, you know?

And we would have ended up in an argument.

But … I can not emphasize enough how amazing it is to have the ability to WATCH MY BRAIN and catch it when it’s a lier!!!

I caught it in that moment.  I said, woah brain! THat guy your married to has one of the biggest hearts you’ve ever met … and he loves his kids every bit as much as you do. THAT is the truth.

So … what’s really happening here?

What’s happening is that I had an hour to process all my feelings and come to my decision in my journal … and this is the first time he’s hearing about it …. And he just needs to externally process:

So … after catching my brain and redirecting it … I let him talk it out.

  • I heard his points and his concerns.
    – I didn’t try to fix it for him.
    – I didn’t try to convince him of WHY he needed to help.-— And I gave him space to figure it out.

    I listened. And I agreed. I said, I know. I know you have a lot going on right now. I heard him instead of arguing and blaming when I didn’t need to.
  • And you know what? After several minutes of him spilling out his own thoughts … He ended up saying… without me prompting… “But I know you have a lot going on too and I want to help”

He worked it out through about 10 minutes of verbal dialogue in a way that would work for him…

But  He needed to process what it would mean for him. And He needed to do verbally do that out loud.

He wasn’t shirking responsibility.. he was taking responsibility seriously enough to process it honestly.

Now … this is important …He did have some stress about this responsibility. And His external stress didn’t mean anything about me.

– it didn’t mean he expected me to do it all.

– it didn’t mean he didn’t want to help our child.

– it didn’t mean he was being selfish.

It actually meant all the opposite.

He WANTED to help out.

He saw that it was important.

And his brain went to work, verbally processing what it would mean for him and how to make it happen.

                                All it meant was that he                                                 needed to process out loud all the feelings and thoughts he was having.

And you know what? I didn’t have to talk him into it. I didn’t have to argue. I didn’t have to get mad.

All I had to do was let him process in the way he needed to.

He processed and then took on the responsibility.


c. Now… what if he was an internal processor?

                – He may get quiet for a while.

                – He may need to think about it for a day or two and figure out how to make the extra responsibility I was asking of him work.

Now in this situation … our temptation is that when someone gets quiet about something, we think they don’t care.

We create a story in our own minds that since they don’t want to talk about this, they don’t care about us and they don’t respect us.

                But if you’re aware of your partners unique mind and their decisre to process things on their own…. you can even preempt that by how we bring up the conversation.

So in my case, if I were to have an internal processing husband, I might have said, “Hey babe, I’m feeling really overwhelmed by how long homework help is taking. It would be helpful if you took over these two subjects. Can you think about it for a day or two and see how you might be able to help with this?

                And then say, I’ll check back in with you Tomorrow about this.

You migh say, “Let me know if we need to look at the schedule together to figure this out.”

                And then you give him space and check back in when you said you would.

Understanding both you AND your partners communication styles will help know what to expect.

And you can plan your conversations accordingly.

We usually can’t simply adopt someone elses ideas and thoughts without processing what it means for ourselves as well.

So make sure you take a few moments today and try to figure out how you process as well.

Knowing yourself will help you to be able to communicate to your partner your own needs….

If you’re an external processor, you might say, “Babe I need to process this out loud… can you just listen while I do so. I’m not asking you to fix anything for me… so don’t feel pressured to come up with an answer.  I just need someone to process with.

Start practicing letting your partner in on how you operate!  It helps to build understanding and trusth.

So If your an internal processor, and they ask YOU about something that requires a decision … you might say something like,

“Honey, I hear what you’re saying and I think I need a day to think about it on my own – I’m an internal processor  and I need to have my own conversation in my head before I figure this out with you.”

This understanding helps you accept and be patient while you and your partner process in their own way.

Now your Conversation and Processing style shows up in other areas too… not just big decisions.

Last year my trusty family mini- van just decide to DIE on me! And it wasn’t worth the cost to fix it. So I was forced to go get a new car. Now, I had planned on that van lasting me another year. I really appreciated that old van and all the memories I had with my kids in it!

But… I had to rush the decision to buy a new car!  and with all the incredible rebates last year during covid, I ended up getting a brand new car instead of a used one. It’s a great car. One that fit my needs very well and it’s very comfortable. And I felt very safe about teaching my third child to drive in it.

But … I process slowly …. And internally!

SO  it took me a few days of driving this new car and processing the fact that my mini-van… the car that I drove my kids around in for much of their lives… the car that so many conversations with my kids and trips took place in… was no longer part of our lives. You know my kids talk much easier when I’m driving them. So anytime they are having a hard time, they’ll say, Mom can we go for a drive? We’ll go for a drive, and listen to music and talk. We’ve taken that van camping and to see concerts together.

That van was a big part of our lives and even though I did want a new car…. I was sentimental about my van!

And I needed to process that on my own before I could thoroughly enjoy my brand new car!

Now I’m ecstatic about it!  But I wasn’t immediately.

I had to process it.

And while I was quietly processing the sentimental aspect of losing my old car … Cris noticed I was quiet about it and asked, “Rach, do you even like your new car?” And I was like, “yes, I like it and I’ll be excited about it… Just give me a minute to process what just happened.”

He could have taken offense… he could have thought, “Sheesh Nothing will make her happy – not even a brand new car!”

But after 24 yrs, we’re starting to understand each other!

I told him a few days later all the processing I had to do to mentally to let go of my old van to accept my new car…. He said, “wow, I had no idea you had so many feelings about the mini-van.”

Of course not… I’m an internal processor. And I need to process it on my own BEFORE I share with him!

It’s just who I am!

And with this current BIG AMAZING, EXCITING Change that we are moving toward … I need the same thing ….

Time to journal. Time to think.

And Cris needs time to discuss out loud, time to verbally process all the details. Without judgment, without criticism, without blame or frustration.

We get to let each other BE ourselves. And find beauty in the back n forth discussions!

And in that process … we’re creating some pretty amazing shit!!

That I can not wait to tell you about because it involves YOU!!!!

But I’ll save that for next week! Come back and I’ll tell you all about it!

But for now … for this week, I want YOU to become aware of what kind of processor you and your partner are.

Open up a conversation about this with your partner!

And If you’re an internal processor, maybe go journal all your thoughts about it first and what understanding this could mean for your relationship first!

Sometimes journalling your thoughts about something helps you to gather all your thoughts so that you can have a really good conversation with your partner.

And honestly that goes for internal or external processors.

Journaling is magic. It gives you time to dig deep and understand yourself more.

And then ask your partner what they think … ask them How they process things? Verbally or internally?

Have a discussion and try to understand each other before the next big decision you need to make together.

If you have any questions on this, shoot me an email ask ask!

Or if you want help with your relationship… if you feel stuck and want to make change QUICKER with more EASE and FUN along your journey, I would LOVE to be your coach!

If you’d love for me to be your coach, head to the show notes and book a free consultation call with me.  You deserve incredible relationships … and I can help ya get there!

Have an incredible day, friends!
And i’ll see you right back here, next week!

Enjoy the Show?