Effective communication is at the heart of all relationships and requires a two-way commitment. As a partner you have the responsibility to communicate with your mate and your partner also has a responsibility to communicate with you. Couples who come to my office for the first say that a lack of communication is the main reason they've decided to seek counseling. What exactly is communication? Communicating effectively means willing to share your feelings and being honest and sincere with you say. It also means being a good listener. You must be willing to hear your partner's feelings, opinions, and concerns.
Qualities of good communication include talking and listening skills, the ability to problem solve and conflict resolution skills. First talking and listening, verbal and nonverbal skills are important to couple life. Nonverbal communication includes body language, context, and tone of voice. Partner's who care about each other and desire effective communication avoid words that put their partner down, ridicule, poke fun at, or demean in any way. They also avoid negative voice tones and negative facial and body gestures. Active listening is attending, validating, paraphrasing, seeking and providing clear feedback. Second, the ability to problem solve, can be defined as having the skill set to work through a problem without it escalating. Studies show that problem-focused strategies result in higher marital satisfaction for men and women. Training in problem solving and argument style, as taught by a marriage therapist , prevents destructive conflicts from lingering and helps to resolved marital stress and crises. And finally conflict resolution, this can be best illustrated through the idea of accepting, rather than avoiding conflict and handling differences constructively. Constructive conflict strategies calming self, taking timeouts, breaking an issue into parts, taking turns using "I" statements, and seeking professional help.
Couples who wish to communicate effectively will be interested in ways to manage conflict. Some conflict is normal and healthy. It is not so much the presence of quarreling that is the problem, but rather of defensiveness, hostility, stubbornness, and withdrawal.
These questions may help you get an idea of how you communicate:
- Are you a good listener? Do you wait till the other person has finished before you speak? DO you acknowledge what they've said?
- Do you find it important to make the time to have a conversation?
- Do you make sure that you've fully understood what the other person has said?
- Set aside time to talk when you will not be interrupted.
- Take turns, one person speaks while the other one listens, then reversing the process
- tell your partner how you feel. This can be hard but it will make you own your feelings.