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URMC / Employee Assistance Program / News & Events / UR Medicine EAP Blog / February 2017 / Valentine’s Day Tip: Improving Couple Communication

Valentine’s Day Tip: Improving Couple Communication

Complaints about a partner being “too controlling” are common in couples counseling. Whether you are too controlling or too passive, each of these behaviors is usually learned in our family of origin. Try this exercise for improving communication to see whether it does inspire better communication, improved assertiveness, less passivity, and more excitement in your relationship. (1) Observe your communication for a week, and notice when you are passive and nonassertive or overly controlling and uncompromising. (2) Challenge yourself to step back when you feel a need to control, or if you notice your reluctance to be assertive or remain passive, act to communicate your needs earlier. Keep a personal diary of observations and insights. (3) Stop blaming. When you blame, you become the victim. If you are the victim, then your partner must do all the changing. This is a recipe for no change at all. (4) Identify “triggers.” These are things partners do that trigger an unpleasant emotional response. If you do any, try eliminating them. (5) At the end of the week, share your notes and triggers, and discuss observations and your reactions to controlling or passive behavior over the past week. (6) Be sure to discuss insights and new awareness, what’s working better, changes each of you would like from the other, and how to keep progress moving in the right direction. (7) Decide upon a special reward for participating in this communication challenge.

Did you know Life-Work Connections/EAP will provide assessment and short term couple counseling for you and your spouse/domestic partner? For more information, call 475-0432, or email


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