For the past 27 years that I have been doing spiritual counseling, it wasn’t long-ago that I included couples counseling and one of the things I noticed with many couples, whether those couples are a man and a woman, two women, or two men, is that there is often a lack of real and meaningful communication.
This lack of communication causes small conflicts to become heated arguments where issues are not resolved because both partners are trying to make their points and are not even listening to what the other person has to say. Nothing can ever be resolved when one person raises his or her voice with what only appears to the other person to be demands. The effect of this is that the other person feels as if they are being scolded like a parent scolds a child and this causes the person to close up in a defensive posturing attitude where they don’t bother listening to what the other person is saying. This intensifies the problem because when the person who is relating the problem area in their life feels that they are being shut out, or ignored, by their partner there is no meaningful dialog which allows a resolution to be achieved. The only resolution to the problem is for one or both partners to bring the subject up again, which might only create the same result. Instead of being resolved this issue now smoulders like a hot ember, and this can make for an emotional forest fire!
The way I try to resolve issues like this is to teach couples how to discuss issues instead of just yelling and having the entire situation turning into World War III. There are several steps couples can take to have a good, open, and loving discussion, and to reduce the friction in their relationship by learning to resolve the very important issues that cause them to misunderstand each other’s feelings.
One of the most effective steps I teach couples is to express their anger, fears, aggravations, and concerns to their partner. This allows them the freedom of opening up without the fear of confrontation. It is a very simple method, but has certain rules which must be followed.
One of the ways I teach couples to do this is to encourage them to write a journal to document the issues in their relationship which they feel are causing problems. Detail is very important here. They must also devote an hour of uninterrupted time each week for open discussion. This discussion has to occur on the same day, and at the same time, and becomes a weekly ritual for the couple. During this hour, each of the partners has 30 minutes to read from their journal. While each partner reads their journal, the other partner cannot interrupt, or make any comments. After this hour, I encourage each partner to spend some time alone, and to reflect upon what they have just heard. They must also remember not to have any discussion about what has just been said. However, they can add some of this new information into their journals for the following week’s discussion. This method is not a quick fix for a troubled relationship, but most couples are amazed that after several months they are now working together to resolve the problems in their relationship.
This is only one of the many techniques which can be used to help couple resolve issues, but by teaching couples how to effectively communicate, it helps to strengthen the foundations of their relationship. One of the most complex interactions we face in life is the relationship with our partners. There is often some initial spark which brings two people together, but for a relationship to thrive it requires communication, cooperation, and compromise.