Couples Communication skills are a starting point for most couples and it is the leading goal that most couples enter couples therapy with. What is also important and makes for lasting change for you both is getting to the question “what makes following through on good communication so hard for you both?” For some of you, this may not be your first go around at this couples therapy thing and you have already done the “how do you feel about that” communication skills in your last therapy and it did not stick. Or you may know how to communicate everywhere else in your life, just not with your partner. Guest what? You are not alone. Together we will uncover your core relating dynamic often learned in childhood for good reasons but no longer needed in adulthood. Shifting this old style of relating makes the changes you make lasting.
When you try to talk with your partner do you feel:
- Like Yelling or Leaving?
- Like you don’t matter to them?
- You are right and they are wrong or the other way around?
If you are stuck in a cycle of shame, blame and anger and cannot get out from under the disconnecting communication you have going on, it is time to come get some help. Earlier is good. If you wait until all the good will is gone between you both, it is a harder project to rebuild a new foundation beneath the home that is your relationship. Come in when you notice cracks.
I know there can be a stigma about getting help and if you could feel the kind of relief on the other side you would not wait. You are not alone in this struggle and you are smart to raise your hand and say “Hey, we need some help here!”
Is there anything I/we can try right now to help with our communication before and between sessions?
Yes. Apply Non Violent Communication (NVC) Skills.
1. Get clear on what you are feeling right now. Need help? Here is a list of feelings.
2. Get clear on what unmet needs ignited those feelings. Here is a list of needs.
3. Follow the NVC Communication Steps
- State the facts of what just occurred without your judgement or interpretations
- Name how what just occurred impacted you by picking some feelings from the list above…”I feel hurt, I feel sad ….”
- Name the needs beneath your hurt feelings – hint: use the list above.
- Close the sale – make a very specific request of what specific action you would like your partner to make right now to repair and/or going forward. Start with this exact phrase – “Would you be willing to…?”
- Be available to hear your partner’s reply to your request non-defensively. It might be no, yes or an alternative idea.
For a more detailed description of the NVC communication process click here.