Couples Communication – Finding the Source of the Power
In the course of treating individuals and couples struggling with a broad range of intimacy disorders from life-long sexual addictions to newer relationships that lack healthy intimacy development, it is common to hear the phrase, “We need help with our communication skills.” Most of the time they are exactly right, they do need help with their communication process. While gaining new communication tools is an invaluable asset in developing the closeness you desire with your mate, you may lack the ability to utilize these tools when you need them most. Therefore, in the course of treating this facet of an intimacy disorder, defining and managing the forces that divert you from effectively using your new resources are as important as the tools themselves.
Communication, in the scope of creating intimacy, needs to occur when one or both of the following circumstances are true: a) I’m getting something from my mate I don’t want, or b) I’m wanting something from my mate I’m not getting. Given this, it would seem fairly obvious that one partner would simply express to the other what those things were that they wanted or no longer wanted, and in return the other partner would be able to meet the request or negotiate together a solution that left both sides resentment-free. The problem is that there are many powerful forces, some conscious others subconscious, that easily detour the process. Without the knowledge and understanding of why you struggle in following effective communication patterns you are setting yourself up for another intimacy failure. How can you be ready to use tools you acquire?
Tracing it to the Source of the Power
Clients often express a moment when they feel an argument has gotten so far out of hand that its impossible to pull out of the downward spiral. The emotions are flowing and every word adds to the insult and injury that both parties are feeling. When a client is able to slow down the process and trace the power of current events back to past experiences, then there is reason to believe that any communication tools will be effective. Take for example Jon and Deb. Unable to go even days without major blowout arguments, Jon described how he felt like he was always being left out of decisions concerning their two young children. Deb complained that Jon always overreacted with the kids and that she needed to protect them when Jon was being unreasonable. One day Jon stumbled across the Visa bill to discover a charge at a nearby Pizza restaurant, one of those kid playground and arcade chains. He stormed toward his wife and demanded to know what she was doing spending money carelessly on wasteful luxuries when they had planned to increase their 401k contributions. The conversation started quickly on its downward spiral and decayed into accusations of her undermining the families financial future and of him only caring about money and not his family.