Improving Communication in Relationships
Conflict is inevitable in any relationship. However, what if you could avoid unnecessary tension and conflict by feeling heard and understood at the beginning of a disagreement? If you feel like your opinions and feelings are respected and valued, you’re more likely to reach an understanding efficiently. For example, when discussing finances with your partner, feeling like an equal participant in the decision-making process can lead to a more productive and less upsetting conversation. Unfortunately, asking for help with communication can be challenging.
Fair and Unbiased Couples Counseling
This is where I come in. As a counselor, I can help you communicate with your partner effectively and help them understand the true purpose of couples counseling. I can also help you express your willingness to work on issues that may be causing conflict in your relationship. It’s important to communicate that I am an unbiased supporter who is there to help both sides equally. Once people see this in action, they’re often more willing to engage in couples counseling.
Two Types of Relationship Problems
In relationships, there are two types of problems: content and process.
- Content problems involve what you argue about, such as money, intimacy, and parenting (money being the most common, followed by intimacy and parenting).
- Process problems, on the other hand, involve how you go about resolving those content problems. In my experience, the most common process conflict occurs when both partners believe they are correct from their perspective.
Understanding Relationship Dynamics
Any relationship between two people has three dynamics at play:
- Your dynamics,
- Your partner’s dynamics,
- The relationship’s dynamics. The relationship’s dynamics are not simply a co-mingling of your and your partner’s dynamics; it includes both of you but also has some unique manifestations of its own. It’s essential to consider all three dynamics when working to improve your relationship. Having a fuller picture of what you’re dealing with makes it easier to find common ground and workable solutions.
When to Seek Couples Counseling
Marriage and relationships are not always as easy as they appear in the movies or our fantasies. They require work, and it’s not always easy to see the rhyme or reason for the dance. However, if you or your partner consistently feel apathetic about working on the relationship, couples counseling becomes vital. Ideally, you should begin using communication skills, counseling, and mutual respect before apathy sets in. Being mindful of the direction your relationship is heading can help prevent apathy from setting in.
As with many things in life, following through on these ideas can be difficult. However, persistence and consistency are powerful tools to have in your arsenal. If you’re looking for additional resources, books like “The Relationship Cure” and “Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work” can help improve your relationship.
Updated December 5, 2023
To learn more about how to fix red flags in relationships, please visit my Couples Counseling page.
Jonathan F. Anderson, LPC-s has worked in the helping profession since he started college in 1990. After completing his Bachelor’s degree at the University of Texas, Austin in 1994, he attended the highly-regarded University of Minnesota to earn his Master’s degree in 1997. He is a Licensed Professional Counselor and is recognized as a Board Approved Supervisor by the State of Texas Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors. Jonathan has completed Level 2 of the Gottman Method of Couples Counseling, and in 1998 received training from the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation in Advanced Critical Incident Stress Management & Debriefing. To learn more about Jonathan’s practice, click here: Jonathan F. Anderson, LPC-s.