Couples therapy as a tool to improve communication between both partners
These are the keys to couple's therapy that help to improve communication dynamics.
Communication problems in the couple are the main indicator that the relationship is in a process of deterioration; in turn, if something is not done to solve them, they lead to more problematic situations that accumulate and add to the existing ones.
In other words, they are both a cause and a consequence of the wear and tear of coexistence and the emotional bond.
For this reason, a good part of the objectives set by couples therapy have to do with improving the communication patterns between the two people who come to between the two people who come to the psychologist's office. Here we will see a summary of how this is achieved.
Possible communication problems in a couple's relationship
This is a summary of the main communication problems in couple relationships and their characteristics.
1. Lack of assertiveness
Some people have a great facility when it comes to clearly expressing their feelings, intentions or will in a frank manner and without hurting or belittling the feelings of the other person, a social skill known as "assertiveness".
But some people tend to repress their own feelings, believing that expressing them may cause discomfort to the other person; this is one of the worst ways to express feelings.This is one of the worst ways to deal with an argument or any kind of problem in a couple.
To close oneself emotionally to the other person to avoid confrontations, to stop communicating one's own opinions, impressions or needs and to lose confidence in sharing everything that worries us is one of the most unequivocal signs that there is a communication problem.
Deficits in assertiveness, a skill associated with the ability to leave nothing important unexplained, are a real obstacle to achieving a good relationship, since in any conversation or heated discussion there is an inability to defend one's own position.
2. Deficits in active listening
Active listening is another of the fundamental pillars for the proper functioning of any couple relationship, and the lack of it leads to situations in which at least one of the people involved in the relationship feels alone or misunderstood.
Both in the couple and in social relationships in general, active listening consists not only in paying attention to what the interlocutor says, but also in is based on a deep willingness to understand and a genuine interest in what the other person is saying, and to make this known through nonverbal language as the other person speaks. through non-verbal language while the other person is speaking.
3. Tendency to reproach
Another classic in the problems of communication in couple that can deteriorate the relationship are the recurrent reproaches.
Recalling at every opportunity problems of the past, or blaming the other person for events experienced and in theory already overcome, or using attacks as a defense during a relationship. or using attacks as a defense during an argument is a very negative communication pattern and can generate, in the long run, feelings of resentment by one or both parties, discomfort, weariness or frustration.
4. Misinterpretation errors due to optimistic or pessimistic bias
Frequent errors of interpretation of what the other party says are another of the most frequent problems in the communication of couples and these occur more when the couple is already going through a bad moment in the relationship, in which angry arguments, negativity and conflict are common.
It is in those cases in which each argument or comment issued by one of the partners is interpreted in ways that fit more with their own way of thinking than according to what we know about how the other person usually thinks; for example, this can occur from a pessimistic bias, believing that any ambiguous comment is an accusation, or from an optimistic bias, assuming that the other person is happy with what we have done even though we should be more interested in their true opinion about it.
What is done in couples therapy to overcome communication problems?
These are some of the main processes in which couples therapy is applied to solve communication problems in a courtship or marriage.
1. Putting assertiveness into practice
Assertiveness can be improved by attending and practicing through real-time conversations, and by improving the skills to "break up" and "break down" communication problems.and improving "ice-breaking" skills. This is done by keeping in mind the main idea to be communicated and setting moments in which it should be clearly expressed in a minimum amount of time, while keeping in mind not to hurt the other person emotionally for no reason.
2. Development of active listening
This includes both a training program in the management of the ability to concentrate and in learning those social conventions about how to show that one is paying attention.
3. Managing discussions from a constructive logic.
To avoid that every time something is discussed, the dialogue becomes a fight of egos and an exchange of reproaches, it is necessary to be aware that criticizing something or complaining about an event that we did not like does not imply fighting or seeking confrontation.
For it, in couple therapy we work by facilitating that both people become accustomed to collaborate in "dialogue tables" adaptable to the context of each moment.In this way, a series of signals indicate that both are willing to contribute to the relationship and do their part to find a solution to what is happening. And it also includes the practice of this way of collaborating without giving in to the desire to let anger or frustration overshadow the desire to seek the good of both in the medium and long term (which does not always mean making both sacrifice the same, sometimes one of the two must give much more or/and repair the damage caused).
4. Internalization of the communicative patterns of the other party
It is necessary to to know very well the communicative style to which the other person tends in order to adapt our interpretation of what he/she says or does to this style.. This does not imply clinging to a rigid stereotype about how that person thinks, but rather is based on general attitudes, ethical values of what is important to the other, and the degree to which there may be a difference between what he or she thinks and feels and what he or she communicates explicitly.
Looking for couples therapy services?
If you would like to initiate a couple's therapy process, contact our team of professionals. In Carolina Marín Psicología we have 20 years of experience attending people with emotional or relational problems, and our sessions can be in person in Seville or online.
Caballo, V. (1983). Manual de entrenamiento y evaluación de las habilidades sociales. Madrid: Siglo XXI. Carreño, M. (1991). Psychosocial aspects of love relationships. Santiago de Compostela: Universidad de Santiago de Compostela. Dattilio, F.M. & Padesky, C.A. (2004). Terapia Cognitiva con parejas. Bilbao: Editorial Desclée De Brouwer.
(Updated at Mar 28 / 2023)