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Marriage Counseling: Opening Up to Communication

Aug 8, 2008
Have you stopped asking because you think you already know the answer? Or are you so convinced that you communicate well that you finish your mate's sentences? Sometimes we forget to communicate because we get in a comfort zone that can kill a marriage.

Do you remember when you first met? If you lived at a distance, chances are you ran up quite a large phone bill (or spent a lot of time chatting online). Then after you moved in together, you could talk for hours about nothing.

But over time, the conversations became shorter and less enjoyable. Here you are with those one word exchanges: "Dinner?" "Sure." "Burgers or chicken?" "Chicken." You know how it goes.

To change this monotony, you both have to admit that it's time to re-start your relationship. You may need to declare a TV-free hour before and during dinner. Sit down at a table with real plates and act like you're dining at a fine restaurant.

Candlelight is a good idea to set the mood. Turn off the cell phones and have a real conversation about each other's day. During dinner, you aren't allowed to discuss anything controversial or disagreeable. It's as bad for digestion as it is for renewing communication.

Another way to reconnect is to do something that's new for both of you. Take ballroom dancing lessons. Sign up for a double tennis league or couples bridge night. Join a nature hike group. Any activity that is new to both of you will naturally cause more discussion as well as give you a shared experience.

Pledge to be better listeners. One reason communication shuts down is that the speaker doesn't feel that the partner is really listening. Agree to have a time when each of you listens to the other.

Whether or not you care about football or home decorating, listen to your partner's interests. You can practice this listening skill by agreeing to pay complete attention and say nothing for at least five full minutes.

You can also use this approach to listen to your partner express a concern or disagreement for five minutes without arguing or disputing, then have your chance to be heard for five minutes.

If you don't agree after both of you speak, then agree to delay making the decision until tomorrow. Developing the ability to communicate even when you disagree helps make your respect for one another grow and fortifies your marriage against controversy.
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