Communicate, Communicate some more, And Now Again!

I never meet couples in my practice who over communicate. Instead I meet couples who make wrong assumptions about one another, stonewall and say things like “what’s the point” or “nothing I say matters”, fight to win.

Sounds like you? It’s o.k. and even beneficial for your relationship to fight as long as it’s done with intention to gain closeness or increase understanding. Unfortunately couples get lost in the power struggle that is created. How it comes about no-one knows but they know they are in the middle of it. It feels like a cob web, you don’t see it as you are walking through the forest but you sure know you walked right into it. Getting out of the web or power struggle is a struggle on its own. You promise yourself to not repeat a mistake but nevertheless find ourself battling for control. Who started it – anyone’s guess. Who ends it – either one can.

There is a theory, not sure who to attribute it too, that we enter into a committed relationship with someone who inadvertently picks on our wounds. They don’t mean to do it but they do it. Ever point out a bruise to your significant other just to have them push on it? They are trying to confirm the visual and accidentally do it too hard.  From a relationship stand point, let’s say Partner A feels anxious if a fight is not immediately repaired and they marry Partner B who needs time to process. When Partner B asks for time they are not trying to punish or reject Partner A and yet that is exactly how it feels. So who should sacrifice their needs?

Maybe no one needs too. A great tool is for both partners to validate their needs in an exaggerated way. So in this instance Partner A would say “I know you need time to process and despite my fear of being apart during this time I will wait for you”. Partner B should validate and offer up something to comfort Partner A “I appreciate you acknowledging my need, let’s talk in 2 hours”. At this point it is vital for Partner B to stick to that promise. In absence of following through on this commitment betrayal and mistrust will start to grow.

The example above sounds very forced and formal. This is not how you will continue to speak but sometimes when learning a new skill exaggeration helps. Remember when you started to drive and you were very mechanical in checking rear view mirror and then paying attention to the road and then checking side mirrors and so on. Think of retraining yourself as learning to drive. Yes it is mechanical but the results are worth it. Slowly natural patterns will set in and trust and attunement will be second nature.

Try these communication tools:

  1. Speak with good intention
      • Is your intention to win an argument or be understood
  1. Validate what your spouse just said even if you disagree.
      • Validation is not an apology or an agreement, simply restate what your partner said
  1. Speak slowly and for short period of time
      • Your partner can’t process or remember a monologue
  1. Use ‘I Statements’
      • I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to not accuse but merely share a feeling
  1. Stay on topic
      • The flood gates have opened up and you are finally talking but practice self restraint and stay focused on one topic until a resolution has been reached

In my subsequent blogs I will share the second part of healthy communication practices. For now see if you can incorporate these 5 into your relationship. These tips are beneficial not just for romantic partners but for platonic and professional relationships as well. 

Please visit www.marinaedelman.com to learn more about me or follow me on Instagram @marina.on.marriage. Feel free to leave comments or ask follow up questions. Happy Coupling!

 

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“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even heard, but must be felt with the heart.”

Helen Keller


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