Never mind that age-old childhood saying about “sticks and stones” – in the real world, words do harm and have a way of wedging themselves between couples and, over time, of building up a fortress of resentment and anger.
We’re living in an era that is all about communication…instant, constant, easy communication. So why is it that often the most challenging communication is the one that takes place within your closest relationship?
It goes without saying that the more emotional and physical intimacy you share with another person, the more challenging it is to create open lines of healthy communication.
Communication in a healthy relationship isn’t as simple as saying ”I love you” but requires keeping your finger on the pulse of your partner’s feelings and developing positive communication habits.
Research shows that as much as 70% of problems between couples don’t need couples therapy or marriage counseling – a good, open discussion will often do the trick!
And, as a parent, it is even more difficult to find the time to dedicate to developing healthy communication skills. Between juggling kids, work, and home, parents are often pressed for time to focus on their relationship-building skills.
From my years of training and experience in premarital counseling and couples therapy in New York City, I’ve identified some key relationship help strategies to help create effective communication in conscious relationships, whether you are dating or in a marriage.
Sometimes it’s almost as straightforward as saying your A,B,C’s….
One of my all-time favorite communication strategies is ‘The XYZ Statement’strategy (created by Gottman, Notarius, Markman and Gonso).
This is how it works:
When talking about problems or frustrations, it’s easy to point fingers and cast blame on your partner for your feelings. Using the XYZ strategy, you are taking responsibility for your feelings, and communicating clearly to your partner that because of a specific behavior (X) in a specific context (Y), you experienced a specific feeling (Z). By getting into the habit of using this strategy, couples will notice less defensiveness and anger in their relationship.
Example: When you didn’t call me (X) to wish me happy anniversary (Y), I felt angry and unimportant (Z).
Remember folks, DO try this at home Try to set aside even 5 minutes every day to communicate openly with your partner.
As in everything in life, to strengthen your communication skills, you need to practice, practice, practice! So practice your X,Y,Z’s and reap the rewards..
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