25 August 2020 Comments Off on Common Communication Mistakes Couples Make.

Common Communication Mistakes Couples Make.

During many first sessions, couples tell me that they want to work on communication. They say that they can’t stop fighting and that they keep doing the same dance over and over. What I hear when they say this is that they don’t feel safe enough to be honest with their partner, that they worry about being yelled at or invalidated and that they are in the middle of a lake with out a paddle. So, I have compiled a list of communication tips to help partners stay out of emotional mine fields.

Make “I” Statements.

When You are communicating about an upset, always start your sentences with “I”. For example, “i’m feeling sad that you came home late last night without calling to let me know. I felt abandoned. and unimportant.” If you blame or shame your partner about not calling, you will most likely get a defensive response. Use a soft and inviting tone to welcome them into a conversation rather than calling them out on a mistake.

Be Direct.

If you are scared to tell your partner how you feel, tell them that first. If they have empathy, they will be aware that you are having a hard time and will be more likely to be emotionally available. Then tell them directly how you feel. If they still get defensive, getting outside help is a good idea.

Don’t Use Non-Verbal Communication

Some couples use eye-rolling or turning their body away from their partner to communicate that they are angry or upset. This dismissive behavior will make your partner feel small, ashamed, rejected and hurt. Perhaps you or both of you grew up with parents who did this. But a safe and nurturing relationship is born of eye-contact, words, kindness and compassion. Eye rolling is a form of anger and turning away is a way to avoid confrontation. Save your body language for snuggling and physical touch.

Understand That No one Can Read Your Mind.

If you didn’t get the love and acceptance that you needed as a child, you may figure that your partner will be able to provide these and that they will be able to read what you need. While your wish is understandable it is also unrealistic. We are all limited by our own perceptions and feelings and can only GUESS what another person is thinking and feeling. Having more realistic expectations about what is possible can transform any relationship.

Don’t Bring Up Past Hurts

It is so important to stay in the “here and now” when you are in an argument. Talk only about how your partner’s behavior affects you now and don’t bring up incidents from the past even though there may be many. If you point out their past mistakes, your partner will feel ambushed and blamed..hardly the frame of mind to motivate them to repair with you.

Don’t Debate

Feelings are never up for discussion. You cant talk someone out of their hurt, anger, sadness, fear or shame. You don’t have to agree with them or even understand why they feel this way, you just need to hear them out. It is never constructive to talk someone out of their feelings but super helpful to validate them and listen. This will soften them and keep you out of arguments.

If you found this blog helpful, please pass it on to help someone else. If you are interested in individual or couples counseling, please contact me at: nanlcsw@gmail.com. I am passionate about helping people transform their relationships.