Poor communication is the leading factor that causes 65% of all divorces. Without proper communication skills, it is very hard for couples to not only understand, but also connect with one another. If you and your spouse are thinking about calling it quits, getting couples counseling may salvage what is left of your relationship, and help you both learn better communication skills to reignite the passion and love that was once there. Here are 3 tips to consider implementing for better communication.
Show That You Are Engaged Without Interrupting
Couples almost always feel that they are not heard. It's easy to interrupt before your spouse is finished with what he or she may have to say, and it's easy to make him or her feel as if his or her concerns and feelings are not taken into consideration or heard. During couples counseling, the therapist should help you and your spouse become more aware of any bad habits that you both have, and work towards building better habits. For example, you may realize that you constantly interrupt your spouse without allowing him or her to finish what was being said.
To show that you are engaged in the conversation without interrupting, most therapists recommend learning how to use minimal encouragers. Minimal encouragers are small signals or words that let the speaker know that you are listening to them and understanding what they have to say. The encouragers used should not interrupt the conversation. Some popular encouragers that are commonly used include, "uh-huh", "yes", "no" and "mmm". Coupled with minor actions like nodding or shaking your head can further solidify the fact that you are engaged in the conversation.
Prove You Understand What Was Said
Although minimal encouragers can show your spouse that you are engaged in the conversation, it may not tell him or her whether or not you understood what he or she was trying to convey to you. The best way of demonstrating that you fully understood what was said is by paraphrasing and summarizing what was said back to him or her.
Paraphrasing means that you will reword what was said to you back to your spouse while still maintaining the overall meaning. Summarizing means you'll essentially use one or two sentences to sum up what was being said over an extended period of time. By paraphrasing or summarizing conversations, you will be reassuring your spouse that you not only heard what was said, but you also understood and processed it.
Paraphrasing or summarizing what was said can also help your spouse determine whether you may have misunderstood what was being said, and can also prompt your spouse into clarifying or divulging further into the topic. This helps to prevent misunderstandings, and help couples feel more connected, which is why most therapists encourage couples to practice paraphrasing and summarizing during the sessions.
Know When to Use Open Ended or Close Ended Questions
Engaging more actively in the conversation by prompting your spouse to divulge further into certain topics can also help better overall communication. At couples counseling, your therapist should help you distinguish the difference between open-ended and closed-ended questions, and learn how to use them. Open-ended questions are generally used to encourage further discussion, and will allow your spouse to move forward in the conversation based on his or her own agenda. For example, you may ask him or her how he or she feels when certain events happen.
Closed-ended question, on the other hand, are much more restrictive, and are not normally recommended for those looking to improve their communication skills. When asking closed-ended questions, your spouse is not given the opportunity to further elaborate. Generally speaking, the answer to the question is restricted to either a yes or a no.
Reignite the spark that you once had for your spouse by learning better communication skills. By being able to communicate better, you'll feel more connected to your spouse, and will also be able to work through problems more easily with your spouse. Even if it may seem like there's no hope left in your relationship, it doesn't hurt to give couples counseling a try. You never know. The counseling sessions might end up saving your marriage and turning your relationship around.Share