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Marriage Counseling: Changing the Channel

If you are married or in a relationship, you and your partner might sometimes struggle to get on the same page. Miscommunication is a frustrating issue to fix.  Thankfully, marriage counseling can help. There are strategies marriage therapists have developed to help you better understand each other. 

Today, you will learn about a simple strategy to help you and your partner gain better understanding called channel changing. marriage counseling

Communication in Marriage

First, learning to communicate effectively in your marriage can be a challenge. Contrary to what many people think, good marriage communication often does not come naturally and takes work and effort over time. Many communication strategies will focus on what you should do during your conversations with your spouse. Channel changing focuses on what you do when you start your conversations with your spouse (Related article: In Relationships, Not Arguing Means You’re Not Communicating). 

Picture this- you want to talk to your husband about a frustrating situation with your best friend. You begin to explain to him why you are upset. Then, you quickly become frustrated, because he starts interrupting with unsolicited advice! You tell him you don’t want advice, and now he is frustrated too. Soon you are both annoyed, and you are going nowhere fast. What happened here?

A common mistake you might be making in this sort of situation is failing to set an expectation at the start of your conversation with your spouse. This is where channel changing comes in.

Change the Channel, Set Expectations

For instance, when you sit down to watch TV, you turn the channels to find one you hope to watch. Channel changing with your spouse works by the same principle. Continuing with our earlier example, if you were to redo the conversation with your spouse about your best friend, the first thing you can do is plan before you begin the conversation. You might ask yourself what do I want out of this? Am I looking for validation? Do I want to brainstorm solutions? Maybe I just need to vent and have a listening ear? Or maybe I need my spouse to help me with something? 

There are many different potential goals that you might want from your conversation. The important thing is that you decide beforehand what you are looking for from your spouse. Additionally, understanding your own expectations before the conversation begins can help you to communicate more clearly and ensure you are “watching the same channel” (Related article: How to Communicate with your Spouse). If you hope to specifically watch HGTV, and then you only tell your spouse you’d like to watch TV, they might just turn on the News. marriage counseling

On the Same Channel

Unfortunately, your spouse cannot read your mind. So, if you don’t make sure you are both on the “same channel”, it makes sense that you won’t be watching the same thing. So, the next step is to let them know what you are expecting from the conversation from the very beginning.

In this instance, you might say “Hey! I want to talk about a situation that I am struggling with. Do have the bandwidth to listen? I just need someone to hear me and validate, so I know if I am being unreasonable.” This approach to your conversation clearly communicates your expectations and invites your spouse to also set their own expectations (Related article: Couples Counseling).marriage counseling

Going along with the idea of channel changing on a TV; you may want to watch HGTV, but your partner knows they don’t feel like watching HGTV and they will struggle to pay attention. They can let you know if they feel like they are emotionally unable to help, and in return you can help them understand what you need. Clarifying what you hope to gain from a conversation with your spouse at the beginning of your discussion can prevent frustration further down the road. 

A Marriage Counselor Can Help

Marriage counseling is a great place to learn communication skills like the ones mentioned here (Related article: Marriage Counseling: Taking Breaks). A marriage counselor can act as a guide for you and your spouse as you work to develop healthy communication habits and strengthen your relationship. 

Ready to learn more? Start couples therapy today in Orem, South Jordan, or Spanish Fork.

 

Written by Lauren Adkins

Utah Therapy

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