A therapist’s guide to couples communication
By Christina Benedetti
The Couple’s Quest: A therapist’s guide to couples communication
As a couple therapist, I have met hundreds of couples in search of fixing their relationship, rekindling their romance, trying to reconnect and heal their wounds. Time and time again, they present asking for communication tools, ways to argue better, or try to understand one another. As I sit with them in couple therapy, I ask myself is it really their communication they are trying to fix?
Often what needs uncovering is the underlying emotional interaction between the two partners. Once uncovered, what becomes evident is the need to be loved, prioritized, understood and appreciated (to name a few).
Each partner brings in their own emotional history and story into the relationship. Relationships can serve to heal some old wounds or at times resurface injuries. Once these underlying emotions can be named in therapy, the relationship struggles can begin their healing process.
So, is poor communication at the core of the issues? It definitely plays a role.
What couples need to do is spend time trying to connect regularly and not just in the thick of things.
- Date nights are a great way to set time aside just for the couple, remembering to have fun or add a little romance back into their lives.
- Checking in regularly, at the end of the day or work week, setting some time aside to just see how the other is doing and maybe discussing any preoccupations.
- Saying “thank you”. Showing appreciation for the daily tasks, can really help foster a kind and appreciative environment between the couple, and help eliminate some unnecessary frustrations.
- Pick your battle!! A strong couple learns to let little things slide. The key is to know the themes that resurface and create conflict. Those themes need to be discussed.
- Repair time is also important for a couple to keep tabs on. This means that when a disagreement happens, not holding onto it. Every couple will argue, but holding grudges enables the tension to linger.
Strong communication plays a role in all these points. Attacking and insulting your partner are obvious forms of poor communication, and I think most individuals are aware of those.
Creating connection is key. Couples need to tell each other what they want, rather than what they don’t want. When people feel attacked, they become defensive, which shuts down communication. Voicing what they want allows the partner to feel open and less attacked or criticized. Expressing commitment to the relationship enables a feeling of safety even throughout those difficult talks or moments. Create a little daily ritual of love and connection. Like I mentioned, setting a little time aside to debrief or perhaps creating a ritual like a kiss or a snuggle. These rituals can help a couple feel connected even in the most hectic times.
A couple’s quest in finding the right communication tools can be tricky. With the right guidance, couples can survive the difficult moments, when they chose to commit to connection.