The content of the arguments may differ: kids, work, money, sex, the division of household labor, and the individual histories differ as well: supportive parents, absent parents, single parent, parent with this challenge or that, but the common denominator of the couples I see, which keeps them stuck, is ineffective communication. In fact, most couples know this and report it in our very first phone call. They know the way they communicate isn't working, hurts, and often is just driving them further apart.
And the not-so-secret secret is that working on the way a couple has discussions will change the relationship. Why is it so difficult? Well, most couples are not truly listening. What is heard touches a raw spot, and the listening stops, the defending, blaming, or deflecting begins and effective communication is derailed. Okay, easy enough fix or is it? Important relationships matter, we've built our lives around them, and what is said or unsaid creates anxiety. This anxious state makes it difficult to suspend our fears, hopes, hurts and hear our partner. So how can an experienced couples or marriage therapist help? In therapy, safety is created, it is one of the first orders of business and from this safe space, conversations can happen where one is able to put aside their need to protect or defend and just listen, understand, validate, show empathy. This, with time and practice, creates trust and bonding. It's a relationship game changer.
About the author: Dr. Melissa Hudson has been a Plano licensed marriage and family therapist since 2012. She also helps those contending with anxiety and depression as well as families. Conveniently located near The Shops of Legacy, Dr. Hudson is convenient to Frisco, Richardson, Allen, McKinney, and The Colony. You can learn more about her work here.