Most of us began our relationship based on communication. When we were courting, we talked to each other on the phone, wrote love letters, and had conversations deep into the night. We communicated freely, expressing our hopes, dreams, desires and feelings.
Over time, many relationships fall prey to poor communication skills. Couples think they are communicating, but they have lost touch with what that means. Many couples who think they are communicating are really correcting each other.
Couples can save a dead or distant marriage by learning to communicate effectively once again. First of all it is important for couples to identify the difference between communicating and correcting. It all depends on the goals or desired outcome of the conversation. If your goal is to change the other person and get them to do what you want, then you are correcting. If your goal in the conversation is to share and be heard, then you are communicating.
Here is a powerful exercise to help you with the communication process:
- Choose a grievance or some issue you have with your partner.
- Write the grievance down in a note to your partner. Write everything that you want to say on the topic.
- Now, take two different colored highlighters. Go through your note with one color. Highlight every time you are trying to get them to change or to tell them that you are right or that they are wrong. For example, “ You are never home on time.” Or “You don’t help around the house enough.” Both of these statements are correcting and telling your partner they are wrong about something.
- Take the other color of highlighter and highlight anytime you are truly communicating and simply providing information. It is okay to share what you would like to see in the relationship, but it needs to be more focused on what you feel. For example, “It would make me really happy if you and I went on a date once a week.” Or “I would feel really supported if you would help me more with the children.” These statements are true communication.
- Next, rewrite your journal entry until there are no correcting remarks, just sharing. Share what you need to share, but in a way that is not correcting or making one person right and one person wrong.
Communicating effectively is much easier said than done. About 90% of couples would benefit from some instruction or help in communicating. If you want to save your marriage, relationship coaching, marriage counseling or marriage education classes can help you develop and use these communication skills.
“Pankaj Modi Says:”Brett R. Williams is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. He has over 20 years experience in the field of psychology. Brett is the founder of http://www.helptalking.com which provides relationship coaching, marriage education and marriage counseling. Phone appointments are available. Brett is also the author of You Can Be Right or You Can Be Married. Make an appointment for relationship coaching today. http://www.helptalking.com