Compassionate Communication in Poly Relationships

Dec 18 '2020, 2:01 PM | By Chris

Communication is one of the most important things in our lives and relationships, especially when you’re in a poly relationship. Oftentimes, people are hesitant to be too forthcoming with their feelings out of fear it will come across confrontational or an inability to be vulnerable. The truth is, successful polygamist relationships are the result of communicating our most honest and raw emotions. This is the practice of compassionate communication. 

When you communicate with compassion, other people know you’re being genuine and feel comfortable enough to express their feelings to you in the same way. You may think you and your partners do a good job at communicating, but take a moment to reflect on both your day-to-day interactions and the last time someone in the relationship was upset.

Handling Conflict with Compassion

When a polygamist family is dealing with tension, no matter how big or small the situation is,  it can be difficult for everyone to feel heard. This is why it’s a good idea for everyone to sit down and individually share their honest feelings about what’s going on. It’s natural to want to respond immediately, but partners and sister wives need to be mindful and not rush to respond. Each individual should really take their time to understand what is being said and take the time to consider a thoughtful response. This shows that the conversation is important to you, and that you want to handle the person’s feelings with care. 

Remind each other that you are working through this as a team, so no one should go into the conversation with a “me against the world” mindset, or take things as a personal attack.

Seeking Opportunities to be Compassionate

Practicing compassionate communication isn’t limited to handling conflicts- in fact, the more you each practice it in your everyday lives, the easier it will be when dealing with conflicts as a family. 

Each person in a poly relationship has their own needs and preferences, and it takes time for partners and sister wives to learn that. In order to achieve compassionate communication, each member of the relationship needs to make an effort to understand each other and be their authentic selves. 

Practicing compassionate communication in poly relationships by helping curb jealousy, and replacing competition with respect and empathy. Even two of the most different personality types will be able to respect one another if they communicate with respect and understanding rather than judgement. 

Sister wives and partners should always try to speak highly of one another, both directly and indirectly. Finding the good in one another makes it easier to have patience with them when they need you to.

Partners would also be wise to avoid assumptions about one another. No one in the relationship is a mind reader, so if one person says or does something that the others would not do, they should not assume they know the person’s motivation behind it. Instead, respectfully ask them to explain. When treated with respect, your partner will more than likely show you the same respect in their response. 

If a compassionate communication system is not in place, and the feeling of being a team is not achieved, the relationship risks falling apart. Instead of feeling like working together is an uphill battle, face your differences head-on and ask each other what you can learn from it.

Exercises to Help

If you haven’t already, have each sister wife or partner take the love language test followed by the Myers-Briggs personality quiz. Then, read and compare your results as a group. This will help each individual learn both about their own needs and personalities as well as about each other. 

For example, if physical touch is the top love language for one partner but the very last for another, this could lead to friction and misunderstanding. Additionally, if one person’s personality is introverted, an extroverted partner may not understand why the introvert needs time to be alone or acts less social at times.

Another tactic is to practice setting boundaries. In relationships, sometimes it’s hard to say no to something, and people tend to internalize little things that hurt their feelings in an attempt to let it go, but end up just bottling their emotions up until they explode. This scenario isn’t fair to anyone involved.

In poly relationships, a lot can come up that makes partners want to shy away from standing their ground and communicating what they need. Setting good boundaries for yourself is even more important when the amount of people in your relationship increases. Try having each partner write lists of things they absolutely need in a relationship, things they would like but are willing to be flexible on, and things they absolutely would not allow. 

When doing this exercise, encourage one another to address any and every topic they desire to in their lists. Some examples can be how much one-on-one time they need, their desired sex life, living arrangements, etc. This will help each sister wife and partner understand their role in one another’s lives and each person’s boundaries. 

You and your partners are a team, and your goal is to make the relationship emotionally gratifying for everyone involved. You can choose to let your differences be your weakness, or you can choose to make them a strength. For that to happen, ideas and emotions need to be exchanged with one another. Find time to sit down and have a conversation about what a compassionate communication plan looks like for your relationship, and how you can work together to create it.

Published By: Christopher Alesich 

Matchmakers Inc:


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