Probably the biggest complaint I hear in couples counselling is that no one feels listened to. Sometimes it’s like watching a tennis match with more back and forth rallies than at the Australian Open Tennis Tournament this week; one person trying to score a point at the other’s expense. Before one person even serves up a half a sentence, the other one is on the defensive set to return their own point of view. Back and forth it goes with point and counterpoint all the while creating nothing but helpless frustration, resentment and distance in the relationship.

Good communication in couple relationship requires serving up a very different approach. Try these easy tips for a winning edge!

  1. ​Listen without interruption. Let your partner talk uninterrupted for at least 2-3 min so they can get a complete thought on the table.
  2. ​Work toward understanding. Really try to get back the meaning of what your partner is trying to say. Like a mirror, reflect back what you're hearing both in terms of content and how they feel about it. For example, "Sounds like you are frustrated that we never seem to have enough money left at the end of the month." If you get it right, your partner will let you know. If not, they can clarify it and you can reflect back the new version. Keep reflecting until you're partner is finished. Remember point #1. This may take 2-3 min or more. Be patient!
  3. ​​Let them know you care. It's not enough to just listen and understand. You also need to care about your partner's thought, opinions and ideas even if they are different than yours. Expect that will have different opinions because you are both individuals.
  4. Work out a win/win solution. Good communication is working toward a solution you can both feel good about. If only one of you wins the relationship will lose in the end because of the unavoidable resentment the loser feels. Build some common ground, a consensus or even a first step toward a solution. Review your solution is a few days to see if you both still feel good about it. If you don't, you will have to fine tune it. If it's working then thank your partner for a job well done!

Communication is finally about teamwork. -- both parties working together for the sake of a strong and vibrant relationship!

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Posted January 29th, 2015

Serving Up Good Communication


Pacific Family Life Counselling