cardinal point counseling
Cardinal Point Counseling

Couples Communication

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Communication Issues Happen in Relationships

One of the biggest reasons couples attend couple therapy or marriage therapy is communication issues. While communication issues are usually a problem, they are often a symptom of other more significant issues. They are usually a result of a lack of a solid emotional connection or unmet attachment needs. They can be a result of poor compromise. Yes, you may have trouble communicating, but it’s perhaps because you don’t understand your partner’s love languages (how they express and feel loved). Maybe you and your partner don’t see eye-to-eye for various other reasons. Perhaps too much communication is via text. What seems like a big deal for one person may be inconsequential for the other. One partner may want to be listened to or connected, while the other has a good faith desire to solve the problem and move on. This can create a viscous cycle. Teaching communication strategies is helpful, but they often break down when a couple is outraged, and learning how to understand and control emotions through Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) can help.

Because of the large average delay (six years) between couples first detecting that there is something seriously wrong with their relationship and getting any kind of help, many couples will have compounded problems.

Conflict Can Be Healthly and is Normal

Young gay couple laughing and looking at each other

There is a reason there are so many best-sellers written about couple communication and particularly differences between men and women. While these books may stereotype, that doesn’t mean that they don’t contain some truth. For example, some point to human evolution and the belief that early survival strategies have shaped the way we communicate today into a sub-optimal way for modern society and relationships. Communication can be particularly strained after an affair.

The importance of communicating with empathy

Couples Want Solutions

Happy couple communicating while having lunch in a restaurant.You may get frustrated with projects at work often taking more time than is ideal. Such is likely also true with couples or marriage counseling. Changing negative cycles at home that work so well at work is doable but difficult. Couples need to trust their provider in the counseling office too. While feedback is welcome, trying to solve problems too quickly without getting to the emotional core is both challenging and necessary.

Marriage counseling can be a powerful tool for power couples to navigate their unique challenges. Here are some solutions therapists might focus on:

  • Communication Techniques: Therapists can equip you with communication tools to navigate tricky conversations about power dynamics, competing goals, and managing public personas. This might involve active listening exercises, identifying underlying emotions, and expressing needs assertively. And, these techniques will likely not be enough when things get heated or competitive. All couples need to learn to access and regulate their emotions. Strong communication can also be tied to healthy sex.

  • Resolving Power Struggles: A therapist can act as a neutral mediator to help you untangle the complexities of power within the relationship. They can guide you in finding win-win solutions, fostering collaboration, and establishing healthy boundaries around individual careers.

  • Rekindling Intimacy: The intense focus on work can leave intimacy by the wayside. Therapists can help you create strategies for prioritizing quality time, building emotional connection, and fostering physical intimacy.

  • Addressing Competition: Therapists can help you identify the root of competitive urges and work towards celebrating each other’s successes. They may introduce exercises like “gratitude journaling” or suggest ways to find healthy competition outside the relationship.

  • Coping with External Pressures: Therapists can provide guidance on managing public scrutiny and maintaining a healthy work-life balance. This might involve setting boundaries with media, creating a private space within your lives, and developing stress-management techniques.

  • Building a Support System: The isolation that comes with an extraordinary lifestyle can be addressed by therapists. I might suggest finding couples in similar situations or exploring ways to connect with a broader community.

Remember, therapy is a collaborative process. I will tailor solutions to your specific needs and help you create a roadmap for a stronger, more fulfilling relationship.

Common Objections

The following are common objections.

We've tried using "I" statements and active listening, but they don't go far enough.

Surface-level communication issues can be overcome (at least temporarily) with communication techniques, but if there is relational or attachment trauma, you may need more than the basic techniques. Many of these come from Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT).

Once things get heated, there is no going back.

This may be time for a short, announced and agreed upon break from the conversation.

I need to win.

You are a team, so you win and lose together.

Why Choose Aaron Engel of Cardinal Point Counseling?

Aaron Engel counselor

There is nothing wrong with getting training in one method of couples therapy. One can become a real specialist. Multiple methods may work great for some and not very well for others . Having the training and experience to integrate multiple models and tailor to your experience is my preferred approach.

Read my bio and see if I sound like a good fit. This website has a wealth of information, but you may also schedule a free 15-minute consultation.

Communication can benefit from tools like “I” statements and active listening, but in the heat of the moment you really need to break out of negative cycles and get to the root of the problem. There may be unmet attachment issues and deeper root causes of relational trauma that interfere with communication.