If you are presently engaged to be married, we send you our warmest congratulations! The time of dating and engagement is exciting and promising-- a time where couples dream of a future together and feel the promise of a great future with their soon-to-be spouse. Unfortunately, many of us don't learn the "in's and out's" of what it takes to make a marriage work, which can end up in feelings of great disappointment once the "I do's" have taken place.
If you are reading this, there is probably a Congratulations in order?? Well congrats! Or you may be a parent or friend, reading this to pass along the information. Your child or friend will thank you later ;) So far we have learned of the importance of talking about expectations, roles and rules, and styles of love. Today we will talk about communication.
Imagine Hope is getting several calls each week for people who want to save their marriage before it starts! Couples are starting to realize that they need to do more planning for their marriage while they plan their wedding. Many get caught up in the thrill of engagement and wedding stuff, that they loose sight of all the things that go into having a successful marriage
This week we're trying to help couples prevent heartache by naming the mistakes we see most often in our office. Yesterday we discussed sweeping things under the rug, expecting a one-hour session to make everything better, & keeping work life separate from home life. Today we build on these common mistakes:
Fighting about too many things at once. It’s hard to follow a disagreement when you’re fighting about this, that, & the kitchen sink.
There’s nothing more relaxing in the Fall then wrapping up in cozy blanket by a warm fire and reading a good book. I’ll be honest, because I have been studying communication now for about 27 years, I really don’t “enjoy” reading books about it. This isn’t to say I don’t still have a lot to learn. I just mean a book on communication isn’t one I would choose with my blanket and fire time. However, recently I attended a conference and heard Sheila Heen speak. She is an amazing communicator and puts things in such a logical format. I had to get her updated book Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most. Sheila shares authorship of this book with Douglas Stone and Bruce Patton of The Harvard Negotiation Project.)
This book can be helpful for any relationship from marriages to the highest level of the cooperate world. It reminds us how important it is to not go into conversations with the stance of proving what you say is correct. Instead, it offers us the suggestion of having a “learning stance”. This gives us the perspective of learning what the other person is trying to say or convey rather than just trying to get our point across. The book reminds us to notice what is going on with us when we are communicating, and to try to understand the other person’s story. They give great examples that show how a conversation can deescalate quickly when people are unarmed by a different approach.
Sometimes it can feel like we are living in a world where everyone is talking, no one is listening, and everyone feels they are right. This book challenges us to listen and helps us communicate so we can be heard. It also helps us see how sometimes we are both right, if we can see each other’s perspective and have empathy for one another.
I hope you enjoy this book. Not only that, if you’re struggling with communication in any relationship that is important to you, I hope the principles in this book can change how you begin to communicate.
If you’re interested in hearing an interview with Sheila Heen, follow this link.
Thank you all for reading and have a wonderful week!
Written by Natalie Chandler
Natalie Chandler, MA, LMHC LCAC is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Natalie enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, and couples counseling. Her areas of expertise include infidelity recovery, faith-based counseling, anxiety and depression, as well as addictions counseling. We also specialize in family counseling, child counseling, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Westfield, and Zionsville.
Teri, Tammy, and Natalie have all shared some great tips so far to making our communication better. Here are a few more to add to your "relationship toolbox":
Remember that communication breakdowns aren't always personal. Many times the issue at hand is linked to some deep rooted unresolved issues. Try to empathize with your partner as they are trying to heal from a painful past.
Are you starting to understand that healthy communication is achievable? It is how you handle it that is important! Have you tried any of the tips so far? Here are 5 more to help:
Remember this isn't a competition. Having a win/lose mentality will only hurt your relationship and break down the connection and intimacy you have with your partner. This mind set actually creates two losers, not just one. There is no room for comments like, "I told you so" in healthy communication.
As Teri mentioned yesterday, disagreements can be healthy, as long as it's done in a respectful way. Healthy conflict can be one of the ways you and another person grow closer. It's natural for people to disappoint us in our lives, but how we handle it is key. Continue to follow tips for healthier communication steps this week, and you'll find yourself more successful at tackling difficult conversations.
All relationships have conflict at some point. Many couples try to avoid it mostly because they don’t know how to make fighting work “for” their relationship. Conflict within communication can be a good thing if done correctly. It allows each person to be honest with themselves and their partner about their opinions and desires. This week Imagine Hope wants you make your communication better.
Hopefully you are learning ways to handle anger this week. A reminder that anger is normal, it's how you handle it that is negative or positive. We changed gears in yesterday's blog- focusing on how we can handle someone's anger in a relationship. This is a continuation of that.
It is amazing how a calming, listening ear can calm an angry soul. Sometimes when my kids are very angry I will encourage them to tell me what is going on (after some time to cool down and get it out of course!)
Anger is a normal, healthy emotion that we all experience. It becomes unhealthy when we bottle it, don’t fight fair, and use it to manipulate. Here are some additional tips to help you deal with anger-in a HEALTHY way:
Like Tamara mentioned yesterday, carefronting is a healthy formula to address issues and frustrations experienced by couples.
Anger is normal. We all feel it from time to time. We shouldn't see anger as "bad" or try to avoid getting angry. However, HOW we show our anger and process it can be what gets us in trouble.
This week we are sharing tips to help deal with your anger in healthy ways.
Have Some Fighting Rules
Getting angry during a fight is common, but sometimes unhealthy expression of anger can cause a fight to get intense.