Contrary to the popular saying, great minds don’t always think alike. Though you may believe that your spouse is your soulmate and can understand just what you’re thinking as you are thinking it, the fact is that there are going to be times when even the closest of partners don’t think alike. As much as you’d like to believe that your partner can read your mind, the fact is that miscommunication and misunderstandings are going to occur. Even the strongest of marriages have to work on communication techniques to keep the bond firm. Understanding how to speak with each other, on a daily basis and during times of conflict or disagreement, can help couples avoid the pitfalls of deleterious communication. Though we have already discussed the common mistakes that couples often commit when communicating, we believe that there are ways that couples communicate that establish more trust and loyalty. These tips for healthy communication include:
- Place the focus on yourself. Use statements that begin with “I”. When you focus on how you feel, rather than the behavior or action of your partner, it takes away the possibility of your partner feeling blamed or attacked. By keeping the focus on feelings, your partner, and you, can avoid getting drawn into the vicious cycle of blame and defense.
- Really listen. Listening is a skill that doesn’t come easy to most of us; especially in the throws of a heated argument. But taking the time and effort to actually listen to your spouse is imperative to truly understanding their position. Don’t merely listen for a pause where you can state your case. Really hear what your partner is saying and try to see their point of view. Don’t allow distractions to draw your attention away from what is being said and be willing to be open to what your spouse is really saying.
- Ask questions. You know that your partner can’t read your mind and you shouldn’t try to do so either. If there is anything that your spouse is trying to tell you and you are not understanding what is being relayed to you, ask. Make sure that you completely understand why your spouse is upset, never assume. Don’t allow yourself to jump to the wrong conclusion.
- Keep to the present. Stick to the issue at hand and don’t bring up past arguments or issues. Allowing past problems into the discussion only leads one to feel attacked, which you never want to do to your partner.
These tips are just the basics for effective communication. In marriage counseling sessions in Westlake Village we work more deeply on specific mistakes couples are making and strive to replace those with better strategies. We will cover more tips in our next blog. If you would like to set up a consultation with Sarah, call 310-987-4337.