Partner-pleasing: Different Ways Of Communication In A Relationship

Posted at 14:35pm on 10th February 2009

Last week I began a series of blogs which are intended to be more than simply a swift read by an individual. So if you are part of a couple, read on. My aim, today, is to show you several ways of improving communication between you. And, in the coming weeks, to see how easy it is to understand your partner better, and deepen your love for one another.

These exercises were devised some years ago, when my other half and I used to lead Family Forum’s and Marriage Enrichment Courses. But their relevance is as meaningful today as it was then. And they’ve preserved our marriage for nearly twenty-seven years.!

In the last article, we looked at Partner-Pleasing: Knowing and Being Known. Today I have something to say about Daily Sharing: the art of communication. And as I’ve recently joined Twitter and Facebook, it’s interesting to note what passes for communication these days. More of this later. First a quote from Who Said What, pb Bloomsbury.

“Two may talk together under the same roof for many years, yet never really meet; and two others at first speech are old friends.”
Mary Catherwood 1847-1901

I find it interesting that if I type the word Communication into my thesaurus, the following alternatives are shown: Message, Communiqué, Announcement, Statement, Letter, E-mail, Phone call. Nowhere does the word, Conversation appear! Yet there are four methods – or styles – of communication. They are:

Styles of Communicating:
  1. Passing Information
  2. Aggressive Assertion
  3. Intellectual Approach
  4. Sharing Feelings

Let’s unpack each in turn.


  • The note I leave for the milkman comes into this category.
  • So does the hurried statement that Paul gives Lorna when he says he’ll be back late from the office because an audit will be taking place.
  • Likewise, Lorna’s reminder that they’re dining out at the Jones’ that night, so he’d better not be too late.

Much of what is written on Twitter is used to communicate information. Sometimes, this is from people who have one aim, and one aim only:

  • they want to TELL you something;
  • they want you to ACT on what they are telling you.

The link to their blog is information which is being passed on to you (or whoever will read it) in the hope that you will click through and so enhance their Google ranking / visitor numbers / revenue / sales. They may, also, believe that getting you to act on what they tell you will be to your benefit. But unlike those who want to relate to you, to share titbits of their lives with you, these people have little or no interest in you, as a person.

And that, in a nutshell, is what this style of communication is all about. It is information, given in a non-combative manner, which is designed to provoke action (or reaction) in the recipient.

Verbally, it is completely one-way. But it is a necessary part of life and relationships.


I am not talking, here, about simply being assertive. There is a distinction between being assertive and being aggressive, which we’ll look at on another occasion. But for now, we’re looking at a particularly means of communication: one which, unfortunately, is sometimes a necessity of life.

If the note I leave the milkman reads:

  • “If you persist in turning up half-way through the morning, I shall take my business elsewhere,” that would be deemed to be aggressive assertion.
  • Likewise Lorna’s reminder, above, if she phrased it differently: “I’m sick of you working late. If you don’t get back in time to pick me up to go to the Jones’ for dinner, I’m packing my bag and going to Mum’s.”

Many of today’s TV “soap” dramas rely on this style of communication for effect. You might say that the entire plot of such series depends on this highly aggressive form of speech. Much is made, in Britain these days, about a broken society and dysfunctional families. Is it any wonder – when this form of entertainment is the daily diet of many – that society, in general, and young people, in particular, are losing respect for one another?

Writers would argue that they merely reflect real life. Those involved in social observation and policy-making might say otherwise: that TV actually promotes change in viewers.

This is not a good style of communication between couples! One website defines aggression as: “. . . the act of pursuing your desires in spite of the ramifications for both yourself and those around you.” Threats may, on occasion, be a necessary element of parenting. But they have no part in a normal, happy, adult relationship.

The only time I would advocate the use of this style of communication between equal partners would be when all other forms of communication have failed, and one half of the couple needs to shock the other out of an undesirable or destructive plan of action. Even so – use with caution, if at all!


  • The Intellectual Approach to making Decisions and
  • Sharing Feelings as a way to promote Intimacy

See you then.

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