Communication Tips for Couples in Recovery
If you have found yourself in a troubled relationship, there is a very good chance you grew up with parents who argued and fought often. Your household was most likely filled with the sounds of angry voices, raised in an attempt to be heard or to simply drown out the other person.
This means you had no role models for how to treat your partner or what effective communication looks or sounds like. And so, you find yourself flailing, hoping things will get better with your partner but not really knowing what you can do.
The key to a healthy relationship, hands down, is good and respectful communication, especially when you are trying to manage a conflict. If you are currently working toward mending your relationship, here are some communication tips that will help the two of you grow closer:
Give Each Other Your FULL Attention
We live in the age of technology, which means most of us has our head buried in our phone or tablet just about 24/7. This hinders good communication.
When you are speaking with one another, make sure to give your full attention to what the other person is saying. Turn the TV off, put the phone down, and make eye contact.
You may even want to postpone the conversation until you know that you can really be present!
There are those relationships that suffer because one person has been unfaithful. But oftentimes, a broken relationship is the result of two broken people. Take responsibility for your part in the trouble. Admit to your mistakes and commit to trying harder. The masters of marriage take an attitude that says, “when my partner is hurting, my world stops.” Taking responsibility for even 1% of the issue is huge!
It’s not easy to hear someone say negative things about your behavior but resist the urge to cut off your partner when they are saying something you don’t like or agree with. If you are sharing a need or a complaint with your significant other, avoid using criticism. Your goal is to be heard and using criticism will sabotage that goal. Instead talk about how the situation made you feel.
If you are the listener, try and postpone your comments. Your goal is to listen so that you can uncover what your partner needs.
Don’t Raise Your Voice
Yelling and shouting is not a form of effective communication. Do your best to refrain from raising your voice at all. It may sound too simplistic, but it really does help to stop and take a slow, deep breath when you feel your anger rising. The key to not raising your voice is to slow things down and self-sooth. Be aware of how “hot” you or your partner are getting. To many conflicts go from zero to 60 in two seconds. This might be great if you are driving a sports car, but it doesn’t really help when you are trying to manage a conflict.
When your partner is talking, you should be hearing every word they say, not thinking about how you are going to respond. Many people are bad listeners. Listening is a skill you will have to develop over time, but why not start now?
If you follow these communication tips you’ll have a much better chance of reconnecting with your partner and making things work. And if you’d like to find a therapist that can guide you in your recovery, please reach out to us. We would be happy to talk with you about how we may be able to help.
“To many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.”- Les Brown
Michael Soto is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and CEO of BAVOY Mental Health Counseling, PLLC in Orange County New York. Our goal is to help you become the Best Adult Version Of Yourself.