There is nothing more fulfilling then having a partner who understands you and helps you reach your life goals. This is especially true if your goals are diabetes-related, since having a partner can help keep you on track. However, sometimes life can get stressful and communication can break down. It is important to recognize that this is normal for any relationship. Here is a strategy that make help you and your partner discuss your diabetes-related issues, as well as any other issues you may be having.
The Magic Pencil
Sit down with your partner and set a pencil on the table between you. You will take turns holding it – whoever holds it has permission to speak. Remember, neither of you is allowed to judge or blame the other for any comment that is said.
To start, pick up the pencil and share how you feel about a particular issue using sentences that begin with the word “I” – I feel…I need…I experience…etc. As long as you have the magic pencil in your hand, you cannot be interrupted. Here is how it works:
- Sue and Tom are partners. Sue holds the pencil and says, “I feel that we don’t spend enough time together anymore.”
- Now it is time for Tom to show that he understands Sue’s comment. He does that by rephrasing what Sue said using different words. Tom says: “You feel like we don’t do as many things together as we used to.”
- They will continue to share thoughts about the topic Sue has chosen. When she is done, Sue will pass the pencil to Tom. Now, it’s his turn to present the topic he wishes to discuss. Like Sue did at the start, Tom’s comments will all begin with the word “I” – “I feel…I need…I experience…etc.”
- Repeat this activity (passing the pencil) as many times as needed.
- When you are both ready, move onto the Action Round. Action Round: Now it is time to act on all that you’ve discussed. This time, take the pencil (which gives you permission to speak) and suggest a positive behavior that you both can do to improve the situation. Always begin with the following phrase: “It would be really helpful if……”
For example, if you believe that the two of you don’t spend enough time together, you might say: “It would be really helpful if… you joined me for breakfast before you left for golf on Sunday mornings.” If this suggestion works for you, agree to do it right away.
Using the magic pencil method, you can help make discussing diabetes and your health needs a whole lot easier, alleviating some of the tension that may exist when life gets a bit to stressful.