John and Diana just can’t seem to see eye to eye in their marriage anymore. They feel that all they do is argue about little things, never finding a resolution. They feel like every day is a struggle to connect and they are starting to resent each other.
Like John and Diana, all couples experience communication problems at one time or another. However, couples can move beyond arguing by developing their communication skills.
My experience shows that the Relationship Advice process that I have developed is very powerful for providing several successful strategies for overcoming such disagreements. It is a good solution to many relationship issues; an alternative to a long and costly traditional Marriage Counseling process.
Set aside time to talk about serious issues: You do not have to be a Psychologist in order to agree that you can’t communicate effectively about hot-button issues when you are rushing out the door to work, wrangling with the kids, or thinking about your to-do list. You need to give your marriage the same time and attention that you spend on other important aspects of your life. Make a date to discuss your feelings, and then sit down with your spouse in a relaxed setting.
Create shared goals: Before sitting down to the conversation with your partner, spend some time thinking about your shared goals. What are your hopes for resolving your marital issues? Can you share with your spouse your desired end-result? Too many arguments continue simply because both sides don’t know what they want from their partner. Or (even worse) – they demand an exact behavioral outcome and would not tolerate nothing else. If you have a hard time defining your goals, a few sessions with the Relationship Advice provider will restructure expectations.
Be positive: When talking with your spouse, stay positive. Don’t badger, criticize, stonewall, or get defensive. These are negative strategies that will hinder the connection between you and your partner, leading to even more resentment and anger. If negativity has taken over your relationship, seek out individual Relationship Advice sessions for learning new ways to reach out to your spouse.
Prioritize and stay on topic: Sometimes it feels like one problem leads to another, but don’t let yourself get bogged down by dealing with it all at once. Prioritize and then focus on one issue at a time. Write down you specific ‘item’ and keep it in hand during the conversation with your spouse. Another useful technique is paraphrasing your partner’s perspective; differentiate between ‘feelings’ and ‘thinking’; compare them to your ‘feelings’ and thinking’. Do not mix actual facts of specific events with your way of generalizing your partner’s behavioral patterns.
Use active listening: Nothing tells your partner that you don’t care like appearing to not listen. Set aside distractions like the cell phone and work. Face each other and be sure to use good eye contact. And: read again the suggestion about paraphrasing your partner’s perspective…
Take a time out: If things get too intense and the conversation turns negative, take a break. Professionals affirm that it’s OK to say, “I need some time to clarify what I want in this conversation. Let’s talk again in a bit.” Temporarily walking away can help you stay solution-focused. Don’t forget to finish the conversations; do not vanish.
Dr. Joseph Abraham, Director, Center for Human Growth and Business Insights, Mechanicsburg, PA. Tel 717-943.0959 Online Psychologist and Life Coach: Marriage Counseling, Relationship Advice and Management Consulting. Online Counseling and Small Business Advice
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