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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Psychotherapy Blog: Are You Having Problems Communicating in Your Relationship?

As a psychotherapist who works with individuals and couples, one of the most common complaints that I hear from people who are married or in a committed relationship is that they're having communication problems.  Often, either one or both spouses feel that the other spouse isn't listening and/or they don't like how they're being spoken to by their spouse.

Are You Having Problems Communicating in Your Relationship?

Communication problems that persist can ruin a relationship.

There can be many reasons why your spouse isn't listening to you.

The problem could be related to a problem that your spouse is having, a problem that you're having or both.

Become Aware of How You Communicate With Your Spouse
One of the most common communication problems in relationships is a problem with the way one or both spouses speak to one another.

Before you point your finger at your spouse, consider how you might be able to improve your style of communication:
  • Learn to get to the point rather than repeating yourself and creating a long monologue.   If you go on and one, after a while, your spouse will probably tune out and stop listening to you.
  • Give your spouse a chance to respond to what you're saying.  If you try to monopolize the conversation, your spouse will get frustrated and neither of you will get anywhere with whatever problem you're discussing.
  • Don't preach, scold or lecture your spouse.  Aside from being infantilizing and a big turn off, it also gets in the way of any meaningful communication.
  • If you want to have an open, meaningful conversation with your spouse, avoid making remarks that are hurtful, mean, dismissive, sarcastic, demeaning and disrespectful.  
  • Avoid generalizing and distorting the situation by accusing your spouse with words like "You always..." and "You never..."  This will only make your spouse defensive and angry, and it will get in the way of communication.
  • Avoid rehashing old situations that you've talked about before.  This is one of the most destructive things that people in relationships do, and it creates hostility and resentment.
  • If you have gotten into a habit of complaining and whining a lot, this is a big turn off and your spouse is going to stop listening to you.   Try to become aware of your style of communication and whether you're in the habit of being negative.  
  • Timing can be an issue.  Be aware of what might be going on with your spouse when you want to bring up sensitive topics or problems.  If your spouse is overwhelmed and your topic isn't urgent, consider waiting until the timing is better.  If your spouse is in a better frame of mind, it increases the likelihood that s/he will listen to you.

In my next article, I'll discuss active listening and how really listening to your spouse (and vice versa) can help improve your communication.

Getting Help in Therapy
Communication problems that persist in relationships often destroy relationships.

If you and your spouse have tried unsuccessfully on your own to improve your communication, you could benefit from attending couples counseling with a licensed mental health professional who works with couples and can help you to save your relationship.

Learn to Communicate More Effectively With Your Spouse

Attending couples counseling and learning how to communicate more effectively can help you to have a happier more fulfilling relationship.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist who works with individuals and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website:  Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (212) 726-1006 or email me.

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