Poor communication is the number one reason many couples have a difficult time getting along. If effective communication doesn’t take place then the chances of a relationship breaking up increase. To help understand common communication mistakes couples make and how couples can effectively communicate, I have interviewed therapist Glori R Zeltzer, M.A.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
“I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a practice in Ventura, California. I have been treating individuals, couples, and families for almost 30 years. I currently specialize in working with couples: married, premarital, dating, and same-sex. About 15 years ago, while in my own unsuccessful marriage, I began exploring ways to teach couples to create healthy and fulfilling relationships. Too often couples seek marriage counseling to help them salvage damaged relationships that are too far-gone. It is much more exciting to me to teach couples how to establish a healthy relationship structure that will help them through the hard times. In addition to my office practice, my life partner, Leon Berg, and I created a couples workshop, Tools For Togetherness, that teaches couples how to deepen their communication and intimacy. I am passionate about helping couples create healthy relationships and thereby creating the foundation for healthy families.
What are common communication mistakes couples make?
“The two most common communication mistakes that we make in relationship are to fight harder, or withdraw when we don’t feel understood by our partner. Most arguments occur because nobody is listening. When we feel attacked or hurt by our partner, we use “skills” we learned growing up to protect ourselves. These skills don’t encourage close connection. What we tend to forget is that we all feel vulnerable, and desire understanding and love. John Gottman, a renowned marriage theorist found that there are 4 serious relationship killers: defensiveness, criticism, contempt, and stonewalling.”
What type of impact do these mistakes have on their relationship?
“Unfortunately, the result of these mistakes is to create distance between partners. Over time, frustration and resentment develop and partners withdraw from each other. Not knowing how to resolve conflict, or share deep feelings creates distance. We tend to keep trying the same tactic if it’s the only tool we have.”
How can couples effectively communicate with each other?
“Set aside time for talking without distraction. Listen for your partner’s feelings. Resolving conflict doesn’t require agreement, it requires understanding. Don’t give up if your partner doesn’t respond the first time. Take a break and come back and try again. This isn’t just for conflict resolution; it’s for sharing hopes and dreams as well. Think in terms of what’s good for the relationship or family. A healthy relationship encourages healthy individual growth too!”
What last advice would you like to leave for a couple that has a difficult time communicating?
“Be patient with each other. Listen to your partner’s feelings, thoughts, and desires, with an attitude of curiosity. In our couples workshop we teach couples to listen and speak with their hearts. Don’t judge, don’t defend, and don’t criticize. Remember, you’re on the same team!”
Thank you Glori for doing the interview on how couples can effectively communicate. For more information on Glori or her workshops you can call her at 1-805-648-3535, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out her website on www.tools-for-togetherness.com.
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