Getting Couples' Communication Unstuck
Communication problems are still the most commonly cited reason for separation and divorce, so don’t let the frustration of communication problems linger too long in your relationship before taking steps to intervene. You can start by applying tried-and-true principles of effective communication. Although many communication strategies for reducing conflict and healing relationships exist, the following three are foundational and can help you experience almost immediate results: 1) Use “I” statements when talking about your feelings and your needs. Doing so instantly removes the blaming dynamic your partner responds to with defensiveness. 2) Listen without interrupting. This takes conscious effort, and it is a skill that comes with practice. So practice. It will be easier because of #1 above. 3) When your partner speaks, listen and validate what was said. The ability to paraphrase demonstrates the most appreciated and satisfying form of validation, but expect it to feel a bit awkward until it becomes a more natural part of your communication style. If these exercises don’t work, then seek help from a professional counselor before throwing in the towel on your relationship. Counselors know how to apply communication strategies and can guide you through them and give you more to use in the future if needed.
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