First of all, to be clear, this is not a scientific study. Rather, it's a query that I took to some of my close colleague-friends in the field of couples therapy.
I asked, “What is the one thing that you hear most from the couples in your office?”
“We don't know how to communicate.”
Not surprisingly, this is the same sentence that I hear and have heard in my Denver therapy practice for years.
When Communication Becomes Harmful
Here is some straight talk: Most couples totally know how to communicate. But, what they tend to communicate is what is wrong with their partner.
Remember, you are always communicating. You can't not communicate when you are with your partner.
Most of us can perfectly communicate our level of disdain for our partner's excessive joke-telling at a party with a glance and tight jaw. We also can beautifully communicate our hurt at being turned down for sex, again, by flapping the bedsheets as we huffily turn our back to the offending party.
It is not that we don't know how to communicate, but that what we often communicate is hurtful and ultimately does not lead to the emotionally, spiritually, and physically rich relationship that we so desire.
Examining Your Communication
If you're struggling in your relationship, begin by looking at what emotions and expressions you are communicating to your partner. Patience? Disdain? Anger? Hurt? Love? For most couples, the answer is all of these and more.
By recognizing the underlying message you're truly sending to your partner when you attempt to communicate, you'll feel better equipped to change and restructure future communications, so they are more beneficial.
Redefining the "How"
Next, look at how you communicate these feelings and emotions. With words? Facial expressions? Being in close proximity to your partner? Pulling away and being distant?
This is the starting place of your relationship map. You Are Here Now.
Ask yourself: Where do I want to go from here?
Look at where you'd like your relationship to be, as that is your destination. With gentle awareness, begin paying close attention to how you are traveling from the "You Are Here Now" place on your map to your destination.
5 Tips to Reach Your Communication Destination
If you're dedicated to changing your communication skills for the better, consider these five strategies:
1) Most of us can benefit from learning how to be more honest and vulnerable about our own feelings in our communicating with our partners.
2) Trying to stick to simple statements like: “I feel hurt when” or “I felt scared when.”
3) Remember that statements such as “I feel like you never listen to me” are not feeling statements at all, but blame statements that you stuck the words “I feel” in front of. This is a surefire way to start an argument.
4) Be gentle with yourself and your partner. You are exercising a new muscle in communicating differently. Remember to be patient, kind, and compassionate as much as possible.
5) Laughter always makes a road trip more fun. As you travel to your destination, let your heart be light, and humor be abundant in your relationship!
Meet With a Cherry Creek Relationship Counselor
If, despite making these strides toward improving your communication, you are and your partner are still struggling, do not lose hope. Our compassionate Cherry Creek counselors have special training in helping couples communicate and interact more successfully. To schedule a time to meet with one of us, please give us a call today at (720) 457-3342.