Marriage Communication Tips: Guess Who’s Listening?
I had an amazing surprise yesterday from one of my clients. As background, I hadn’t heard from this couple in several weeks since our last session about marriage communication tips. And honestly, after their last session, I wasn’t quite sure what the outcome of their relationship would be. I was also doubting my interventions somewhat and feeling a bit ineffective.
Surprised? While therapists can help many couples who are willing to engage in the work of strengthening a relationship, it takes commitment on the part of both parties. And in spite of our best efforts, sometimes the work involved proves to be too challenging to one or both people in the relationship. Change can be difficult indeed.
With respect to this couple, their sessions were always challenging! They had some difficult differences, especially involving blended family concerns and their respective daughters. It was always touch and go, and I really wasn’t sure her husband was buying into my suggestions and interventions. Of course, I kept trying, though I often felt like I was a broken record. I said much the same things each week, or so it seemed.
Truthfully – they were a lovely couple, and I really wanted to help save their marriage.
So yesterday’s phone call from Mrs. G. caught me by surprise initially, and I prepared myself for the worst, fearing they had decided to end their marriage.
And yet – it turned out to be the most wonderful call possible!
Mrs. G stated that she was sorry she had not contacted me sooner and told me of her busy schedule. Then it happened, the news that every counselor and therapist longs to hear: success. She said that they were doing great and that it was largely due to “my” counseling. She then added that she has never seen Mr. G listen to anyone like he had to me before.
Well, you can imagine my facial expression at that moment! It was a mixture of surprise and joy.
I thanked her for the call and she said they would be back to finalize and end our counseling sessions as soon as things got a bit easier with her schedule.
This surprise phone call reinforced an important lesson for me, and I hope it will help you as well.
Marriage Communication Tips: Never Assume Anything in Dialog!
You simply can’t assume anything when in dialog with another person. It is far too easy to misinterpret and second guess an outcome.
When in conversation with your partner make sure you know their intentions, needs and requests. Ask questions before you terminate the talk. Do not walk away with a question mark in your thoughts.
In this case, I allowed myself to take visual cues and defensive statements uttered by my clients and jump to a conclusion that compromise would be difficult if not impossible for this couple.
I can’t tell you how happy I was to be proven wrong.
Is there an area of your marriage where you have made an hopeless assumption about your own or your partner’s ability to change for the better? Please let me be the first to offer you hope. Where two people are committed to improving their own skills of communication and compassion, the hope of change is always present!
What steps are you taking to improve the relationship skills that you bring to your marriage relationship? Whether your marriage is in “preventative maintenance mode” (no obvious problems, but you’re strengthening it for the long-haul), or your are in a marriage needing some significant repair, let me assure you that there are real actions you can take daily to make your relationship the best it can possibly be – the gift of a lifetime.