Couple's Communication

Today’s blog brought to you by Lauren Kehr and Ellen Shapira, Therapist and Counselor, respectively.

It’s so easy to say how we would like our relationships with our spouses or partners to be…. more loving, respectful, complimentary, etc. “If only you would just …..!” we think to ourselves. What ARE the characteristics of a satisfying relationship?  It depends on who you ask.

Here are some of the important characteristics that count the most:

-Understanding and upholding different ‘language’ styles between the two of you—everyone has differing word choices and actions to demonstrate their care or dis-satisfactions for another. It helps to know another person more deeply by recognizing his or her loving intentions and motivations.

-Making frequent and ongoing choices about when and how to negotiate, compromise, distract, defer, and assert one’s opinions.  Harsh, poorly-considered criticisms are often destructive.  Pick your battles.

-Sex, money, in-laws relationships, and managing child issues are common stressors in some partnerships and marriages. These topics may need periodic efforts and tweaking—talking problems out, using resources, and asking for trustworthy, confidential help when these or other sore spots are interfering with the relationship and marital or family functioning.

-Deciding priorities, and re-deciding at later dates—Can you operate effectively in all the hats that you wear? Decide what is most important to you, and how to manage the rest.

-Fight fairly—Constructive arguments can clear up impediments and help couples feel closer. Agreed upon rules for disagreements can help couples have greater success and problem solving. Take a time out if needed.

-The “5:1 Relationship Ratio” (John Gottman)—Give your partner 5 positive strokes (words of appreciation, doing small favors, small signs of care) to 1 negative one. This creates the healthy garden soil of a well-functioning primary relationship, and in which a few weeds will undoubtedly sprout occasionally, and can be weathered.

Your communication with your partner can be enhanced by understanding how you and your spouse are similar and how you are different in the ways that you communicate. A formal  assessment such as the Myers Briggs Type Indicator can be helpful in this understanding. Join JFCS staff members for a special Valentine’s Couples Communication Class on Monday February 11, 2013.  You can take the Myers Briggs Type Indicator and have your results explained by a trained MBTI Professional Counselor and then a JFCS therapist will help you translate your results into developing a  stronger relationship. For more information or to register before February 4, please contact Ellen Shapira at (502) 452-6341 ext. 225.