Individual Counseling, Couples Counseling and Sex Therapy

10 Ways To Excellent Couples Communication

  1. Be a good listener. Focus on what your partner is saying, and then repeat it back to them to assure them it was heard correctly.
  2. Be interested in your partner. Try to understand them and learn what makes them tick.
  3. Be tolerant of differences and learn to compromise. You don’t need to agree on everything; it’s more important to be happy than to be “right.”
  4. When you speak, speak constructively:
    • Think before you speak. Is what you are about to say true? Is it kind? Will it help or harm the relationship? Take care with both content and tone. Avoid insults and harsh criticisms.
    • Save your venting for your friends, journal or your therapist.  Avoid discussing relationship issues with family or mutual friends.
    • Timing is important: bring up difficult issues when you are feeling close, and you are both rested.
    • Use “I language,” e.g., “I feel hurt when you __________.”
    • Stick to a specific point. Don’t let the discussion veer into other unrelated complaints; save those for later.
    • Keep it short and sweet to avoid flooding your partner with negative emotion. Once this happens, their ability to respond will be greatly diminished and you risk causing an argument.
    • Before you initiate a discussion be sure you’re not too angry. If you are, go for a walk or do something else to calm yourself down. Know how to soothe yourself.
    • If your partner responds with anger or insults, tell them you will not accept the manner in which they are speaking to you and walk away. Do not respond in kind.
  5. Do not use silence to punish. If you need some time and space to gather your thoughts or calm down, communicate this to your partner.
  6. When you are wrong, admit it promptly and apologize.
    • If your partner apologizes, accept his/her apology; do not bring it up again.
  7. Nurture and maintain both friendship and intimacy. Be sure to spend regular time alone together with phones and other electronics put away. Discuss your feelings and dreams.
  8. Create positive memories. Learn a new sport or hobby together, or explore a new town. Establish a ritual. The closer your bond, the easier it will be to communicate.
  9. Have a shared vision of the relationship. Discuss what it is that both of you want from the relationship.
  10. Last but not least, make sex a priority. Schedule intimate time together. Yes, I said schedule! Remember, we plan for things that are important. Think of ways to surprise your partner. Communicate with each other about your preferences and needs.

*Adapted from 7 Principles for Highly Effective Marriages by John Gottman and Marriage Communication Guidelines from G/L Publications

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