by Donald Goodman, LCSW
The most common complaint I hear from couples is, “We don’t know how to communicate.”
When communication is poor relationships suffer the most while talking about areas that produce high conflict. I consider these areas “hot topics”. However, some couples can’t even communicate about simple subjects because their unresolved issues and resentments bleed into even the most non-threatening conversations.
What should good communication look like? It’s when discussions stay productive by remaining in the “zone of communication.” Almost every couple has an effective zone, but it’s so undefined it’s underutilized. To clearly define the zone think of the How, When, and Where of communication? The How is the acceptable tone and vocabulary used. Most couples prefer each other to speak softly and kindly while others may not mind a raised voice here or there. What about the When? The when can be very complicated. A couple should know when the relationship can manage a “hot topic.” Are one of you exhausted or emotionally drained? When is the right time to have a serious discussion which will lead to success in resolving complicated matters or hot topics? Finally, the Where. If you’re really bad at communicating then create the biggest opportunity for success by clearly stating where you two can be successful. After the kids go to sleep in your bedroom? Out on a date night? in a special part of the house?
Lastly, an important thing to be aware of is what happens when communication goes bad? How do you decide when you should return to the discussion? the next day? an hour later? never? In other words, how do you resolve things after a discussion went wrong? And remember when figuring these things out make sure it is long after the conflict so that the two of you can remain calm.
The zone of communication is just one important piece to healthy communication. Put the time into it and you will experience deeper levels of happiness. Contact Goodman therapy for your first free session if this article is not enough and you are still struggling.
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