When Couples Shouldn’t “Talk About It”
Trigger Warnings: How and When to Back Off
By: Michell Stanley, LICSW, ACC, RYT
Improving communication is one of the most common wishes couples express when seeking therapy.
Intimate relationships are the hardest to effectively communicate in because our partners inadvertently push our buttons. Second, when you spend a lot of time together, your relationship becomes a pressure cooker for stress, insecurities and relationship dissatisfaction.
If you find yourself raising your voice, yelling, repeating yourself, all while trying to get your point across, keep reading to find out how to move through these communication roadblocks so that you can have more understanding and resolve issues.
1. Proactively Communicate When You’re Stressed
It’s great when your partner knows you’re stressed and cuts you some slack. However, this doesn’t tend to be the case. Give your partner a heads up when you are not feeling well, have a lot on your plate or just in a bad mood. This communication can prevent hurt and misunderstanding by taking your behavior personally .
2. Reflect Understanding Before Responding
Validate what your partner is saying, and then ask them: “Did I get that right?” This tool is the ultimate diffuser in a heated argument. Inserting space to reflect and empathically validate what your partner is saying dials down the intensity and urgency that is inherent in a heated conversation.
“We Need to Talk . . . You Go First”
3. Agree to Take a Break When Triggered
One of the biggest mistakes we make in our relationships is we keep trying to send the message into deaf ears and a closed heart. If you (or your partner) is walking away, shutting down, being aggressive, defensive, blaming or criticizing, it’s unlikely that even the most effectively communicated message will be received. Agree before you get fighting, to table heated conversations until you can both come back with level heads.
When you apply these 3 steps with compassion, you will enhance the understanding and connection in your relationship.
As you know, this work is easier said than done, which is why a lot of couples come to therapy (or couples coaching). If you are interested in doing some couples work, reach out to me. Couples’ work is one of my favorite things to do. I promise to try to make it fun as much as it is enriching ;)
As always, take what you learned here and apply it to your life and share with others!
Psychotherapy is great to alleviate symptoms of emotional distress (such as anxiety or depression). As a holistic psychotherapist and a life coach, I use life coaching to help my clients to be more fulfilled through self-care, intentional communication and aligning with purpose. My mission is to help people use emotional challenges as opportunities for self-growth and evolution.