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Couple’s Communication 101

Dr Andre, Why can’t I communicate with my partner?

 

“We just can’t seem to communicate!” I hear this often in sessions with couples. Here are a few pointers that I always offer my clients who struggle with communication.

First of all, we need to understand the differences in the way men and women communicate. Men are generally far more concrete and linear in their thoughts and statements, whereas women are more abstract and detailed. For men, YES and NO are perfectly acceptable answers. Women, however, are more likely to respond with more information. For example, when a lady asks a man if she looks OK in a particular dress, a man believes he has answered her question when he responds with “yes” or “no”. Another female is more likely to respond to the same question with, “Well, I like the color of the dress, but…”

A gifted communicator knows how to listen.

Another communication challenge happens when a man asks a woman what is wrong and she answers “nothing”. He usually believes her! This does not mean he doesn’t care about her. Men are just not good mind readers. Ladies, they depend on you to tell them what you want or need. But, remember, we all get the best results when we speak in the “I” rather than “you”. Starting a statement with “you” tends to put the other person on the defensive because it has an accusatory tone. And, let’s not forget tone and timing are very important.

A gifted communicator knows how to listen. Men, by nature, are problem solvers. Women vent their feelings and problems to men who in turn have the urge to fix the problem. Great news, guys!  You don’t have to fix it – just listen. Listen without judgment. She just needs to get it off her chest.

Great news, guys!  You don’t have to fix it – just listen.

Finally, have you ever heard of QTIPS? It’s the acronym for Quit Taking It Personally, Silly. We all need to remember that not all problems are about us; so, let’s not assume he or she is angry at or disappointed with us. Your partner’s attitude or expression may be the result of something that happened at work or with someone else. Just ask, “You look upset. Is this about me?” When you respond with openness, your partner will feel safer to share with you. However, if the problem is about you, remember tone and timing. We can say almost anything when we say it with kindness and respect.

…remember tone and timing.

For more in-depth help with relationship and communication challenges, our therapists at Northshore Counseling and Wellness and always happy to help you be your best self. Please call our office for an appointment. We’re located in Metairie (504) 717-4043 or Mandeville (985) 624-2942

-Dr. Andre Sagrera Judice, Ph.D., LPC, LMFT, DCEP

Contributed by Janis Caserta, LPC, LAC

 

 

How do I get my point across without sounding angry?

How do I get my point across without sounding angry?

 The best way to get another person to really hear what we are trying to say consists of two main actions.  

  1. Never try to get an important point across when either of you is angry, but especially when the other person is angry.  If you are angry, the person is going to be defensive because of your anger, and not really focus on what you are saying.  If they do hear what you are saying, they are likely to just dismiss it out of defensiveness.  If the other person is angry, they are too overwhelmed by their own cortisol levels (our stress hormone) for their brain to be able to receive any input anyway.  So the best course of action is to wait to discuss it until both of you are calmed down and able to remain calm when talking about it.
  2. When you do discuss your point, use what we call “I language.”  Talk about your feelings, your goals, and what is or is not working for you.  Talk about yourself, aka “I.”  So instead of saying, “Why do you always take the kids’ side?  You know that pisses me off”, you would say “When i hear you say that I am too harsh of a parent, I assume you are taking the kids’ side instead of finding a way to work with me on this.  Is this right?  I get really frustrated because it is important to me that we are united in our parenting.  I worry that we won’t be good at standing together in situations like this.”  Obviously, the second response is much easier the other person to hear and respond to.  It makes him/her much less defensive because you are not putting him/her on the hot seat.  Instead you are just explaining your concerns and inviting them to talk with you about it.

Try saying “I feel this way about…” instead of “Why do YOU always….”

Contributed by  Michelle Haeur

How can we make our marriage they way it used to be?

How can we stop fighting all the time, and get our marriage back how it used to be? All we have now is a lot of built up resentments.

Dr Andre,

How can we stop fighting all the time, and get our marriage back how it used to be? All we have now is a lot of built up resentments.Healthy communication is very important to developing and maintaining a good relationship.  Each person in the couple needs to learn the practice the skills of good communication.  Each person’s goals and needs in the relationship have to be validated in the relationship.  This doesn’t always mean needs to get met, but they are respected as important to each person.  Successful relationships are based on a win-win approach and allowing give and take to work together.  Resentments build after a person feels their needs have not been respected for a while.  Resentments are signs that the relationship is in true danger.  However, when two people make real effort to discuss and then release resentments, choosing instead to focus on meeting the desires of the other moving forward, resentments can be resolved.

In general, where there is a commitment, willingness for the marriage to thrive, honesty and trust, most couples can benefit from new ways to problem-solve, communicate, and develop healthier coping skills to replace old habitual responses.

Contributed by Jan Doty, North Shore Counseling & Wellness

…choosing instead to focus on meeting the desires of the other moving forward, resentments can be resolved.

Why do my great relationships sour over time?

“Hey Doctor, why are my relationships so great and happy in the beginning and then it goes bad once there is a level of comfort and security in the relationship? This seems to be a common problem in my life, could you give me some general advice?”

Depending on your particular situation, I would advise one or both of the following:

  1. The endorphins released and the chemical reactions that takes place in your brain at the begining of a relationship are similar to the “high” you would get from other types of drugs such as cocaine.  Because you are in an “altered state” you tend to overlook qualities that might send you away otherwise.  After this has worn off and your brain is no longer supplying the influx of chemicals, you are able to see the person for who they really are.  Some people who suffer from addiction will chase this “high” when it wears off in search of a new relationship or extra-marital affairs.
  2. Once comfortable in a relationship we tend to replay the dysfunction of our parent’s marriage due to what we witnessed in our parent’s relationship growing up.  We subconsciously pick the same type of relationship as our parents had in an effort to repair the past.

I hope this gives you some understanding of why this happens even in a general sense. If you would like more specific information regarding your happiness and healthy relationships, please call our office for an appointment. We’re located in Metairie (504) 717-4043 or Mandeville (985) 624-2942

-Response from Therapist Dana Duet-Champagne