How to effectively communicate with your partner during your building/renovation process.
The fact that you are reading this means that there’s a good chance that you’ve either experienced communication issues yourself during a renovation or perhaps heard of someone else’s experience. Most couples experience a test in the strength of their relationship during the building/renovation process, especially if the couple are living in the home whilst renovating. Therefore, good communication skills are an essential ingredient and will mean the difference between an enjoyable experience or one set for the divorce courts prior to completion.
I have often joked that at times I feel my role in the building/renovation process is half designer and half marriage guidance counsellor! This is why I have taken the time to prepare these tips, in an effort to assist couples eliminate a lot of unnecessary conflict and tension, during what can be a rather complex and stressful time. So here are my 7 Renovation Relationship Rescue tips on how to effectively communicate with your partner during your building/renovation process:
1. Monitor your emotions. Expressing our vulnerability can help resolve conflicts when we express how a certain situation makes us feel, rather than shifting the blame onto our spouse for how we are feeling. Renovating also takes time and energy, so be mindful of your frame of mind and that of your partner before you engage in any emotive communication, otherwise tiredness can easily turn into frustration and anger.
2. Share your viewpoint rather than imposing it. Express your opinion clearly, without prejudice and ask yourself the question “Do I want to be right or do I want to be happy?” If you want to be happy, accept that not all of your ideas and viewpoints will be shared so be willing to compromise. See your viewpoint as exactly that, your own personal opinion and not necessarily the truth. Instead of wasting enormous amounts of energy and time focusing on whose viewpoint is right, work towards an amicable solution to your problem together, to arrive at an end result that you can both agree on.
3. Stick to one topic at a time, taking turns to share your viewpoints. For example, if you are discussing what colour to paint your kitchen don’t digress to what tiles to use in the bathroom. It is also helpful to separate the problem discussion from the problem solution phase, to ensure you hear each other out fully before moving on to try to solve the problem.
4. Speak calmly without shouting, blaming or exaggerating the facts. Stick with the facts and don’t make your comments personal. Generally most disagreements arise more out of how the viewpoints are expressed rather than differences in opinion. Call a time out if emotions escalate and make a mutually agreeable time to reconvene when you are both feeling calmer.
5. Stay mindful and present when listening and make dialogue your only agenda. Hear your partner out fully before responding and be open to your partner’s ideas and reserve judgement, rather than being pre-emptive or dismissive. Give feedback and ask questions to check that you have fully understood what they are trying to say and it also makes your partner feel ‘heard.’ Also don’t try to multi-task as it reduces your ability to be present and listen, if you cannot stop what you are doing then ask to discuss it later and make a time to do so.
7. Build bridges not walls. Even couples who have good communication will get it wrong sometimes and need to make amends. Take action to express some positive feelings toward your partner at the end of each discussion, in order to re-establish your love and appreciation towards them. All too often in relationships couples build walls rather than bridges, focus on what binds you rather than what divides you.
Before you start your building/renovating sit down together and have some fun ‘remodelling’ my 7 Renovation Relationship Rescue tips to develop your own ‘Code Of Ethics’ to stick on your fridge. This is a good, fun way to start working together while you determine your ‘communication rules’ and can be referred back to when you forget the ‘rules of the game.’ Finally, remember to not change the rules of the game once you start and happy playing!