Many couples come into counseling with a lack of communication as the primary reason for doing so. Regardless of what brings couples through the door, communication is often the last thing that is described as a problem in the relationship. By the end of the first session, many couples are describing issues of withdrawal, isolation, blame and general dissatisfaction with the relationship.
Further exploration usually depicts two individuals who still love each other, but are tired of the constant fights, feeling ignored, or like their feelings do not matter. Communication is usually the key by which these issues are resolved. There are numerous ways in which counseling for relationships can be conducted. I often find that approaching numerous avenues concurrently provides the most productive and efficient means for relationship rescue. Although there is golden rule or handbook for relationship resurrection, these following rules may be a good start:
1.Develop guidelines for arguments, a Rule Book so to speak. A sheet of paper with ground rules for fighting can really help steer conversations through arguments and ensure each person remains respected and valued. For example: “Remain Respectful” & “Remain Civil”. Notice the language is positive and follows “Do’s” rather than “Do Not’s”.
2. Look for ways to provide positive reinforcement to each other. Often times, each individual in the relationship does many acts of service and random acts of kindness. All of the little kindnesses we show each other add up in a big way. Providing positive reinforcement can include displaying appreciation and affection in response in to the kind deeds provided from each other. Remember, gratitude and appreciation is more than just “Thanks”.
3. It is important to remember that we are here to make each other’s lives easier, not harder. Life is hard enough. Relationships are successful when couples work together.It is important to look for ways to comfort each other, love each other, and nurture each other. This may include looking after the children while the other has a night with friends, the way you prepare a meal for your partner if you are home before them or even giving them 20 minutes to unwind when they get home before you launch the “To-Do List”.
4. Have Fun! Kids? Work? Stress? Next week? Doesn’t work. Have Fun. Schedule a date night. Relax. Fall in love again – remember why we got together in the first place! Smile. Laugh. Do all those things that are advertised in the slogans we hang up on walls, and doors, and windows that say, “Live, Laugh, Dream” (with each other of course!). Remember, having fun includes all those romantic or spontaneous things we can do as couples: naked dinners, bubble baths, romance, intimacy and of course bedroom fun (Or the kitchen – where ever you have fun)
5. Communication – OK I’ll include this one. It takes two people doing two different things: One to talk; One to listen. Remember, Nature gave us two ears and one mouth so we will listen twice as much as we talk. This is good advice for anyone who wants to communicate effectively. When someone takes the time to tell us something, the least we can do is take some precious moments to fully listen and understand what that person is trying to say. Especially if that person is someone we want some of that bedroom fun with. Acceptance begins with listening to what the other has to say – not just being quiet until it’s your turn to talk.
There is no easy way to fix relationship difficulties. Therefore, even these five steps are hardly comprehensive. Although they do form the basis of a good place to start.
If you are looking for help with couples communication, we have experienced and effective therapists at all of our locations that can help!
By: Jessica Blake, Registered Provisional Psychologist, M.Ed.