Relationship Communication Skills: After the Fact

The After the Fact communication skill is one of the many communication skills that I teach my clients. It is a very useful skill that facilitates connection between partners.

Many clients tell me that during a discussion, argument or fight they often cannot think of what to say in the moment but then later, they come up with what they could have or should have said. They find this very frustrating.

For some reason, spouses often think if they missed out saying or doing something in the moment that nothing can be done. So they do nothing. Often they stew or ruminate about it but it does not occur to them that they could possibly remedy the situation.

It is not always possible to think of what to say or do in the moment. Sometimes people are distracted with something or someone else. When people are anxious they often cannot think, so they say or do nothing. Or, they may blurt out something they don’t mean or something that is not even relevant. Sometimes people laugh in situations like this and the laughter is misunderstood.

In ongoing relationships it is always possible to bring up an issue later. Later can be minutes, hours, days or even years. This keeps the lines of communication open and strengthens the connection between couples.


A while ago you said ………. to me . I was surprised and didn’t know what to say. Well, now that I’ve had a chance to think about it I …………

You know yesterday when we were talking about …………… I kind of blurted out …………. I didn’t mean it. What I wished I’d said to you was………….

I’ve been thinking about what we talked about last week, you know, about ……… I want to add …………….. and let you to know it’s important to me that ……………

It’s been a month since we had that fight about ………. It is still bothering me. Let’s talk about it again.

When we married (10 years ago) you said you never wanted to ……………. I want to know if that is still true for you.

When people use the After the Fact communication skill frequently, the time between the incident and the delayed communication tends to shorten. Gradually, the time becomes so short that partners are better able to think of what they want to say or do what they want to do in the moment. It’s not essential to occur in the moment, After the Fact is just fine.

The After the Fact skill is extremely helpful to keep a couple emotionally connected with positive feedback and behaviors.


I really had a good time last night. (One partner to another about making love.)

You know, last week when we went to the concert I was so focused on getting there on time I didn’t tell you how great you looked.

The last time my parents were over you treated them really well. I appreciate how welcome you made them feel.

While the After the Fact communication skill is really helpful for couples, it is also helpful in many other situations as well – parenting, work, and social interactions.

With care and concern,

Dr. Bea Mackay

Do it Yourself Relationship Help at

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