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How To Communicate Effectively In A Relationship – Couples Counseling
Learning how to communicate effectively in a relationship isn’t something you are taught in school. Although, it impacts most of your life and relationships. No, we are taught how to become engineers, doctors, teachers – all kinds of workers. But, we are not taught how to communicate with each other.
Even though communication in marriage is not taught, it is crucial to learn. So let’s talk about how to communicate effectively in a relationship based on what I have learned as a marriage and family therapist in Utah.
Communication In Marriage – Talk About Yourself
One of the first principles of communication in marriage is focusing on yourself. Talk about yourself, instead of for your spouse. Not in a selfish manner, but rather in an accountable manner. You can take accountability when you share your emotions by actually talking about them. Remember how to actually share your feelings rather than just your thoughts. In general, this will make your communication less aggressive or blame-filled. Your spouse will be able to receive it better if this is what you are trying to do.
Example: You could say, “I’ve been feeling lonely lately as you have been working more. I get sad and it’s hard for me to be alone at home for so long”. You aren’t blaming them, but rather sharing with them the raw data and your emotional experience with it.
Communication In Marriage – Hold Emotional Space For Your Spouse
Another principle of healthy communication in marriage is to hold emotional space for your spouse. How do you do this? You do it through listening, asking questions, helping them explore their thoughts, emotions and experiences. Be interested in what they say and resist the temptation to fix it or tell your own similar story.
When done right, holding emotional space for each other helps you get closer. It helps you feel emotionally safe so that you can be vulnerable. Your emotional intimacy will increase as you and your spouse care for each other in this manner.
Example: Your spouse says to you that they had a bad day at work. You could ask, “Tell me about it? What happened?” You would keep asking questions and following up on what they are saying. Don’t try to tell them what to do or how to fix their ‘bad day’, but rather, listen and understand them. Be genuinely interested in them.
Communication In Marriage – Assume The Best
The last principle of healthy communication in marriage is to assume the best about all of your spouse’s actions. This assumption sets you up to react to them in ways that will help you move forward. For example, what if your spouse forgets to fill up the gas tank in the car. When you get in to go to work and have to fill it up, you could assume that they are selfish and lazy. If this is what you assume, then you will treat them as selfish and lazy. Which won’t get you guys anywhere except into a fight.
If you assume that they simply forgot and didn’t do it on purpose or to hurt you, then you will treat them better. You could assume that they are working hard themselves and didn’t have time, but would have filled it up if they did. These assumptions set you up to have interactions with them that are kind and forgiving. This is what your relationship needs.
If you want to learn how to communicate effectively in a relationship, try couples counseling in Utah. Schedule a marriage counseling session in South Jordan, Orem, Spanish Fork or American Fork.
Written by Triston Morgan PhD