by Sharan Kaur
As a relationship counselor, I would like to share some simple yet cogent observations that I have made over the years. The purpose of these fortnightly short articles is for the reader to pick up some of the common issues that arise within all relationship and hopefully obtain a tip or two.
The most common declaration that couples make in a counseling session is: ‘We have a communication problem/breakdown/difficulty.’ However, many couples do not fully understand what this statement means. It’s easy to attribute all arguments, annoyance and differences to a communication breakdown. Couples also find it difficult to identify at which point of their relationship when communication is working and when it does not.
Poor communication is also something that we have learnt, and has probably become a habit. But fear not, if communication is a skill then it means it can be re-learnt. Here are three tips you and your partner can use to fight better, and achieve a more positive outcome:
Tip 1: In the next conversation you have with your partner, be vigilant about these three things: the tone used; the words chosen; and most importantly, the tension in your jaw/face/brow. Consider changing some or all of these and you may realize the process getting easier.
The first element that throws off any communication is when you start to raise your voice. Ironically, the louder one becomes, the faster they become unheard. Saying the same thing in a louder voice is only relevant if physical proximity is the issue. Otherwise, if you repeat yourself in a louder tone, chances are you still will not be understood.
Tip 2: As soon as you hear your voice getting louder, tell yourself : ‘I need to use different words.’ Yelling out the same words is futile. So quickly think of different words to use or manner to give that same message.
If you have a strange feeling of dejavu during a disagreement, it means the same issues keep arising. In this situation, both parties need to take a step back and look at the matter in a whole different light. Don’t bother with continuing that conversation. Instead, start a new discussion about why you have been unable to resolve the issue. For example, if you notice that every conversation about money becomes a heated one, stop talking about the money issue. Ask yourselves: what is it about money that hits a raw spot and is making me uncomfortable? Answer this question first and share these feelings with your partner.
Tip 3: Sometimes in the middle of an argument, just STOP. Put aside the issue temporarily, look at your partner in the eyes and say: ‘what is it that is holding us back from ever reaching any clear resolution?’ Hopefully, that will prompt the underlying issue and help you to shift your focus on what is really the issue.
It takes some practice to change old marriage communication mistakes. However, one small change can make a difference. It’s amazing how the energy between spouses can change with these little amendments. When you understand how it all fits together, you can make real progress in your relationship right away.
Sharan Kaur is a relationship counsellor with The Mind Faculty. She offers individual counselling and couples counselling sessions. To make an appointment with her, please get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org