Most couples that come into my office for therapy tell me they need help with communication, and they are right. Just not in the way they are implying when they tell me “he never listens to me,” or “all she ever does is nag me.” I know, when I am working with them I am going to move them from a defensive, self-protective style of communication to one of vulnerability and intimacy. But, for the first couple of sessions I let them tell me their complaints about communication. It is very insightful to me, I learn all about their hidden fears and desires in those complaints and they don’t even know they are revealing them. It is my job to point that part out.
So why do so many couples come in with the same complaint? Think about it, you wake up in the morning talking to your spouse, you spend the morning getting ready talking to your spouse, you probably text, talk, or Email throughout the day. You probably call on your way home, check in with each other after being away all day, spend the evening divvying up who is going to do what, maybe sit, down after the kids are down and enjoy some quite time together, go to bed together hopefully with enough energy to have sex, staying in some kind of contact all night with a foot or hand, then waking up and starting all over. On special nights you go out and enjoy each other’s company and on busy weeks you feel the pressure of not spending time together. This is the norm for a lot of relationships, and on some level you know that, so when it is not happening like this, you can tell something is wrong.
This is where couples get stuck. Someone might ask their partner “why aren’t you spending time with me”? This partner might feel attacked, hearing he or she is doing something wrong, actually want to stay away from those attacks, perpetuating the problem. Another person might say “We aren’t having sex enough.” That partner might think “why would we have sex when you don’t even want to spend time with me”? Again, perpetuating the cycle. So, it is easy to see where communication could break down and even turn into a blaming, attacking, defending, withdrawing cycle, and why couples come in telling me they are having problems communicating.
So what can you do about this? You can start by making time to have this discussion and talk about how you miss being in contact with the other person. You could also purchase the book Hold Me Tight: seven conversations for a lifetime of love by Sue Johnson and have those conversations. I have had many clients tell me this book changed their marriage. I promote the book so much I offer a full weekend workshop on it. Finally, if it feels like you are just too stuck to do this on your own, make an appointment with an EFT couple’s therapist.
Live Long Live Strong,
Robin Blair, LMFT
Certified EFT Therapist