This week’s topic is communication but more specifically, communication within your couple. It is imperative that you do not lose sight of the fact that the role of communication is to make the relationship stronger, not to break it.
A few tips to consider before starting a healthy and calm conversation with your partner:
- Let your partner know that you want to talk about topic X. Set a time and a place that is comfortable and possible for both of you.
- When you are stressed about something, it is easy to get defensive. Try some breathing exercises prior to the conversation to help calm yourself.
- As they say… honesty is the best policy! Be open about your fears, concerns, and desires with your partner.
- Give your partner a chance to express themselves and use active listening skills like repeating what your partner said to ensure you understand. Do your best to validate your partner’s feelings with words of understanding. Listening to another person is about them, not you. Put aside your point of view, thoughts, opinions, and reactions while they are speaking. They need to be heard as much as you do.
- The conversation should have open-ended questions. An interaction consisting of yes / no questions would not be a conversation.
- Know when you need to stop talking. If the conversation starts to get heated, it is probably time to wrap it up and conclude. Remember why you started the conversation. It wasn’t to start an argument. If things are constantly difficult, it may be a good idea to get in touch with a couple’s counsellor.
Unfortunately, the reality of most conversations within a couple is one party gets blamed /victimised more than the other. Avoid lapsing into attacking, accusing, criticising, or blaming your partner. Talk about yourself. Beginning a statement with “I feel that… I think we should……” instead of “You are doing….”
There is a difference between listening and hearing. Hearing is the act of perceiving sound by the ear. Hearing simply happens. Listening however is something that one consciously chooses to do. Listening requires concentration so that the brain processes meaning from words and sentences. Listening leads to learning. This isn’t always easy. The normal adult rate of speech is 100-150 words per minute but the brain can think at a rate of 400-500 words a minute, leaving extra time for daydreaming or anticipation.
Listening skills can be learned and refined. Active listening allows you to be sensitive to the multiple dimensions of communication:
- The occasion of the message: what is the reason why the person is communicating with me now?
- The length of the message: What can the length of the message tell me about its importance?
- The words chosen: Is the message being delivered formally? Or with slang?
- The volume & pace: What clues do the loudness and speed give me?
- The pauses & hesitations: How do these enhance or detract from the message?
- The non-verbal clues: What do eye contact, posture, or facial expressions tell me about the message?
Please remember to stay respectful, open, honest, calm, and have compassion.
You can also purchase our Couple’s Intimacy Workbook here to help you and your partner improve, maintain or restore the intimacy in your couple.
Be kind to one another,
Julia, Sexologist Blog
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