Communication & Relationship
I often get asked for tools to help couples communicate the hard stuff, or just the stuff they disagree on or misunderstand. After all the right tools fix everything?
In general, though I've found it isn't quite that simple, if we don't attend to the emotions, the reasons why, tools become weaponised. They give hope and then get turned against the couple by the underlying currents of connection.
Without attending to the undercurrents, tools run the risk of adding another step in the ongoing dance of difference, rejection, restoration and another argument in the pile of unsolved problems. Understanding the dance, and how emotions bring us to respond in ways we didn't expect is often key to understanding how conflict affects you as a couple. Understanding this dance and working with it is also often the key to increased connection as a couple. If that spoke to you, please consider couples counselling before reading further. Within my sessions we have developed a communication checklist that sums up some of the things to remember in couples’ communication ...
The C's of communication
Check in ~ Check in with each other, are both of you feeling ok to talk about the hard stuff at this time. If not work on what is needed, sleep, connection, fun and come back to it when you both feel connected and safe.
Curiosity ~ Can you be curious about what has been raised, explore it, and see what it means for the other person. Sometimes just this will take you to the ah-ha moment. Assuming that you’re both working towards a more secure relationship and that this discussion is simply part of knowing each other better. Each of you will have different perspectives or needs or backgrounds. Exploring these well makes your relationship stronger.
Clarification ~ If you are unsure clarify what you have heard, respecting that your partners experience might simply be different from your own. If feeling unselltled remember to keep connection.
Confirmation & Connection ~ Before you arrive at a solution confirm what your partner thinks and reflect back what they are feeling.
Conclude or Compromise ~ Is there a natural, respectful solution. Do you have a plan forward or is there more work you need to do to arrive at a mutual decision?
Check in/Celebrate ~ Because it’s always a good thing, check in with each other that they (and your relationship) are still ok. Celebrate your relationship and working through the hard conversations.