Unlocking the Power of Communication: Marriage Counseling in Spanish Fork, Westminster.
Marriage Communication 101 Part 1
“Communication” is one of the most common things that couples seeking marriage counseling want to improve. Whether couples state that they “don’t communicate,” are “communicating poorly,” or simply “want to work on communication,” this is such a broad topic that it can be a bit overwhelming at first. In this series, I am hoping to provide some general concepts about communication in our marriage that can be helpful for how you think about and experience “communication” within your relationships.
Marriage Counseling and Communication Problems
“You cannot not communicate.”- Paul Watzlawick
A psychotherapist named Paul Watzlawick studied human communication and came up with a few different propositions about communication that are believed to be true and can help you understand communication patterns. My favorite of his propositions is that “you cannot not communicate.” At its most basic form, this statement means that even when we are not speaking to someone, we are communicating something whether we mean to be or not. So in marriage and in marriage counseling, you’re always communicating. And your partner is always reading what you’re putting down.
Have you ever given your partner (or received from your partner) the cold shoulder after an argument? Maybe this is a pattern you are currently stuck in that has you thinking that you and your partner “don’t communicate.” However, based on Watzlawick’s propositions, you are likely communicating loud and clear, and it is probably something like “I really don’t want to talk to you right now.” However, this sort of communication is not good and could use some work in marriage counseling with a good marriage counselor.
Be Intentional About What You Communicate
My challenge for you is to spend some time thinking about how you tend to communicate with others- friends, family, significant others, etc. Start by thinking about your words. Do you say what you mean? Do you mean what you say? Do you ever notice yourself holding words back for any reason, such as hoping your partner will “get the hint” or know what you want without having to ask for it? If not, try understanding yourself more before communicating with another person, especially about something important. What are your wants, needs, and desires? What is your purpose for engaging in this specific conversation with this specific person?
Non-verbal Communication is just as important
Next, think about your non-verbal communication. We look at this a lot in marriage counseling and even mention it explicitly. Non-verbal communication can include your tone of voice, facial expressions, head movements, body language, etc. What are these things saying? What do you hope these things are saying, and how might they be interpreted by another person? Sometimes we assume others know exactly what a look, facial expression, or hand gesture means, but these things can often be misunderstood or get lost in translation. Additionally, do your non-verbal signs of communication match your verbal communication? Conversations and arguments can get extremely confusing once we start sending mixed messages for others to interpret. Once we send contradicting messages, our partners have to choose which message to follow- non-verbal or verbal- and can easily go down the path of misunderstanding, making assumptions, and becoming frustrated.
Why Congruent Communication is Necessary
Choose a day this week to be really mindful of the messages you want to send to others versus the messages they may be getting. Maybe you are great at getting what you are trying to communicate across to others. This is called congruent communication and will be discussed more in a later part of this series, so check back in the future!
Congruent Communication refers to a communication style where the individual conveys a consistent message through both verbal and nonverbal channels. Congruent communication is essential in sustaining marriages because it promotes trust and understanding between partners. When individuals communicate congruently, their words, tone of voice, and body language are all aligned, which helps to avoid misunderstandings and conflicting messages.
This type of communication also facilitates deeper and more meaningful conversations, allowing partners to express their emotions and needs more effectively. Additionally, congruent communication can enhance empathy and promote a stronger emotional connection between partners, fostering a healthier and more fulfilling relationship.
At The Marriage & Family Clinic, our team of marriage counseling therapists at Spanish Fork, and Westminster locations will guide you and your spouse in achieving more congruent styles of communication, helping you and your partner build a stronger bond. If you and your partner are experiencing trouble in the communication realm, The Marriage & Family Clinic team can help. Please reach out to schedule an appointment to help get your communication back on track.