Creative Ideas for Improving Communication
Whether conducted in the United States or far off lands, many surveys find the number one reason for divorce is poor communication. While couples are often talking to each other they aren’t often truly hearing what the other person is truly trying to say. Beyond having different communication styles, issues often arise when one or both partners are not comfortable talking about their feelings. A big part of our job in couples therapy is to help couples learn how to mesh their communication styles, tolerate talking about feelings and hear each other.
All of those take time and lots of energy. The good news is you don’t have to wait till you master these skills in order to maintain a happy and healthy relationship.
Here are some ideas for things you can start doing right now to work on your communication.
Small Talk Offers Big Gains
While you may assume that discussing the impending nor’ easter or last night’s season finale is far from connecting emotionally, the truth is, small talk can positively impact communication even more than discussion about feelings. Many couples find it easier to reconnect over the mundane events of life rather than during a serious discussion, most likely because they each feel safer in the mundane space.
The key is to really engage during these small talk sessions. Be interested and curious. Ask questions. By doing this you let your partner know they matter and you care. In the end, life is woven together by strings of insignificant incidents.
A recent study published in Psychological Science found that partners feel closer to each other when discussing shared experiences. For instance, many spouses can come together when discussing their children, particularly if they are remembering happy moments.
A second study published in Psychological Science uncovered something very interesting! It turns out that words are not even necessary for shared experiences to improve relationships. Silent communication from enjoying an experience can also heal. Doing something together like riding bikes, going to a movie on date night, or even shopping for new lawn chairs can help you reconnect.
Balance Asking and Offering
Good communication is a dance where the man and woman take turns leading. This means sometimes YOU need to offer up the information and share something about yourself. It could be something as simple as what happened to you in line yesterday at Starbucks.
Other times, let your partner share what they want. Be sure to ask questions and actually LISTEN to the answers. If you don’t understand something they’ve said, ask for clarification. This is a wonderful way to show them you care and are fully engaged.
These communication ideas a deceptively simple, but don’t let their simplicity fool you. If you use these techniques you will find your skills improve and your relationship deepens. And, if you feel you need more help in the communication department, seeking guidance from one of our therapists is a great idea.