Learning How To Communicate
I have only two rules when I do couples therapy. We don’t interrupt each other (I assure them that I’ll give them equal time) and no one walks out. I see them individually the first session and put them together for the second. I had one couple who came in because they were having trouble communicating. They had been married four years and the communication had gotten worse instead of better (their words). We started the session and they kept interrupting each other. I stopped them and asked that they let each other finish their statement. This happened throughout the session, so when I ended the session, I told them that they were on vocal restriction for a week and that they needed to go to the store and buy notebooks and pens and they were to write each other instead of speaking. The next session they came in and the husband spoke first. He said that he could not believe how much he was learning about his wife. She echoed his sentiments. We had a great session and neither one interrupted the other, but at the end of the session he asked if they could try It for another week. They ended up using it for three weeks and came to therapy for several months. Two years later, I ran into them and got a big hug from both. He laughed and said that every once in a while, they get out the notebooks and use them for a few days.
We have to listen and listen with love and without judgment. God gave us two ears and one mouth, so we should listen twice as much as we speak. I also teach clients to use - when you…..I feel statements. Your feelings are yours, no one can deny them, but you have to determine what triggers them. We do have psychological triggers that go off and reminds us of past experiences. If they go off a lot and they bring back pain, you may want to address them in therapy.
Relationships are special gifts. They need to be nurtured and nourished with love and attention. Take this gift and value it with your whole heart and soul.
Toni True-Wills, Ph.D.