Have you ever had the day of desperately wanting your partner to understand how you feel, so you quickly grab the telephone and send a text message? And as you grab the cell phone, you rapidly write your response with your raw thoughts and emotions, and then press send button. While anxiously awaiting a response, you check your phone various times within just a few seconds. As the response from your partner comes through, you quickly become upset and throw a text message right back … and the text fighting begins. This text fighting can be a road to a disaster for many couples.
Many couples fall into the rut of communicating through text messaging and may frequently use it as a tool to resolve conflict. The electronic communication has its ups and its downs. But what happens when the text messaging becomes a form of conflict and hurt to the relationship? Our current society relies heavily on electronics as a form of communication, yet the challenge is how to communicate your thoughts, feelings, and reactions effectively through text messaging.
Here are a few “ Do’s and Don’ts” to Text Messaging to keep your relationship intact:
Do send your thoughts of love, admiration, and appreciation. Use text messaging as a form to send your positive thoughts and feelings towards your partner.
Don’t try to resolve conflict over text messaging. If you and your partner have a history of unsuccessful text messaging during conflict, avoid using your cell phone and wait until you see each other.
Do remember that your partner may not be available all hours of the day. Remember that they may be in a place where they aren’t able to respond quickly. Don’t expect your partner to be available via text all hours of the day. This is unrealistic and can actually create problems in the relationship.
Don’t bite back. Simply because your partner “bites” in a text message, this doesn’t give you the green light to “bite” back. Try to respond with respect and love.
Do tell your partner when conflict arises that you will address it when the two of you are able to speak to one another. Speaking face-to-face allows the two of you to use all verbal and nonverbal communication styles. (See my article on verbal/nonverbal communication with text messaging)
Don’t send angry text messages that include attacking comments, criticism, name calling, foul language, or degrading comments. Your partner can keep track of the hurtful text messages and quickly be reminded of how you are hurtful. Re-read the text messages before you send the messaging, and make sure it has respectful and safe messages.
Do take a few moments to calm your nerves before you send a reply to your partner. Re-read your text to edit, delete, or add to it. Try to step out of your shoes and into your partner’s shoes with receiving your message.
Don’t forget to remind your partner that you two are a team. The more of a team, the less there needs to be attacks for defensiveness.
Do use text messaging as a way to communicate about simple, day-to-day issues. Use this as a means to communicate about “non-emotional provoking” issues.
By Jennine Estes, MFT. Copyright © 2010 Jennine Estes, used with permission. All rights reserved.
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