During this time of a global pandemic, relationships are being tested and frustration and short temperedness have become more and more apparent.
Divorce rates in some countries have shot up over the past three months, and it’s possible we’ll soon see a similar story around the world.
One of the main issues that has been linked to this rise is the inability to communicate thoughts, feelings and emotions during this lockdown, leading to disconnection between couples.
So how can couples improve their communication?
What most couples actually want is to re-establish a strong and healthy connection, even though they may be saying something very different in their communication.
One of the most effective ways, according to American psychological researcher and clinician John Gottman, is to use intentional communication openly and non-defensively.
This basically means the couple set some time aside and take it in turn to communicate with each other using the following guide.
Express your feelings
When couples sit with each other and have intermate conversation and express themselves with their personal feelings, the connection becomes deeper. This may mean you have to show your vulnerability, which is important for a healthy relationship.
This is a skill that takes some time to master but is vital to intentional communication. For example, rather than “Are you happy” which is a closed-ended question inviting a yes or no answer. A more thought-provoking question would be “what kind of things bring you the most joy” this is open-ended and invites more conversation and deeper connection.
Empathy is the ability to understand other people’s feelings as if we were having them ourselves, to understand their inner world. This can be difficult as we tend to want to fix problems for our loved ones when instead empathy would be more appropriate. Validating your partners thoughts and feelings shows them that you heard them and you understand them. In turn reducing conflict and bringing about a closer connection.
Always remember, as with any desired changes to behaviour, practice is the key, allow yourself to make mistakes and learn from them. At some point it will become assimilated into your everyday communication.
Anil Arora is a Therapist based in the UAE offering counselling, couples’ therapy, cognitive behaviour therapy, hypnotherapy and coaching. For more, visit www.changetherapies.com.