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Three Keys To Healthy Communication For Couples

One of the most difficult challenges in relationships is communication. If a couple can sort out their communication and improve upon it, they are sure to see their entire relationship improve. The following article will provide three main ways to improve the communication between couples who are struggling with their relationship.

What You Say

As you might imagine, what you say and how you say it can influence the way someone responds to you in return. If you're discussing an argument from the past or a heated topic, it's best to use neutral language. It's best to have a conversation about something that has a high degree of emotional charge when you have the ability to talk about it calmly. Furthermore, as you discuss your feelings, ideas, thoughts, it's important that you use "I" statements. This is a way of phrasing your sentences so that you take responsibility for your own feelings. For instance, "I feel angry when you leave without saying good-bye."   Part of healthy communication is being mindful of what you say and how you say it.

In fact, a very useful method of communication is a tool known as nonviolent communication (NVC). It's a technique used by individuals around the world to improve relationships. Nonviolent communication is a simple communication process that aims to ease the tension that can exist in relationships.

Of course, tension is frequently high among couples who are struggling in their relationships. For this reason, NVC might be a tool couples may be interested in learning about. The technique was developed by Marshall Rosenberg in the 1960's and is very simple. It can be used in all forms of relationships and focuses on the use of three aspects of communication

·         Self-Empathy

·         Empathy for Others

·         Honest Self-Expression

The first, self empathy, is necessary for being able to say what you want to say effectively. Self -Empathy is the ability to connect with yourself, to know what your inner thoughts, ideas, and feelings are. It requires knowing yourself and your inner world. Rosenberg defines this as compassionate awareness for your inner experience, which is necessary to be able to communicate what you need to say in a loving way.

What You Hear

Just as important as knowing how to communicate your thoughts and feelings is knowing how to listen. It's important to acknowledge what your partner has just communicated to you to ensure that you understood it before responding. Once you know you've got it right, empathy for others should play a role in how you hear. According to Rosenberg, empathy for others is the ability to place yourself within the inner landscape of another person. It’s an experience of connection with another that takes into account his or her entire inner world – thoughts, ideas, attitudes. Rosenberg defines this as listening to another with deep compassion.

What You Do

Lastly, part of effective communication is knowing what to do with the information you have received from your partner, as well as the information you have about yourself. For instance, you might both search for common ground. Each of you might do your best to understand the needs, values, and desires of the other person. In understanding those needs, it's important to keep in mind Rosenberg's last main point, which is honest self expression. This requires the ability to be empathic with yourself and with others. For instance, if you are living with someone who doesn't talk to you for a couple of days. Although you might feel hurt or left out or disappointed, you might have realized that your spouse was very busy and didn't have time to sit down and have an honest conversation about feelings. As a result, although you know your spouse is busy, you may need to express your hurt feelings and perhaps agree to have regular conversations. Honest self-expression requires the ability to express your true feelings, to say that you were deeply hurt despite knowing that your housemate was busy.

Healthy and effective communication is essential for fulfilling and meaningful relationships.

 

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Chris Massman is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. Chris' training includes Family Systems Theory along with numerous other theories. She believes therapy is an art and chooses the theory she feels will most benefit the individual sitting in front of her. Her specialty lies is in the field of Chemical Dependency and Addictions. Chris is currently seeing individuals, couples and families. Chris is a Clinical member of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists as well as the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. Chris has two locations including Tarzana and Agoura Hills, CA.