In addition to what Teri, Tammy, and Natalie spoke about in their blogs, here are 3 additional tips for effective communication I see are helpful when working with couples:
Reducing defensive responses when your partner gives you constructive criticism, or when your partner shares how they are feeling about something going on in the relationship. When you become defensive and reactive, you create an unsafe environment for your partner to share their feelings. While it's important how they communicate their feelings, it's also just as important for the receiver to be aware of the message being communicated and to validate what your partner is sharing.
Recognizing when you need to call a "time out" during arguments. When emotions run hot, people can sometimes say things they don't mean. When conflict becomes destructive, you probably won't get to any resolution. Learn to recognize when you are at a boiling point, and when you are becoming non-productive. Agree as a couple to call a "time out" for both parties, where you can calm down and discuss things productively and rationally again.
Dismissing the need to be "right" all of the time, and refusing to compromise. If both people are so busy proving their point, and trying to be the "right" one in the relationship, you aren't working as a team, nor are you trying to understand your partners point of view. There might just be truth in what they are trying to tell you! Learning to come up with solutions where both people "win" and feel heard will allow you to grow closer as a couple. It will also ensure that neither person holds resentment and bitterness toward the other, which can be especially destructive to the relationship.
Written by: Joleen Watson, MS, LMFT, NCC
Joleen Watson, MS, LMFT NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counseling, infidelity counseling and affair recovery, relationship counseling, couples counseling, and individual counseling. Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers.