Planetary Streams Talk Radio Network today announced that Diana Hoffman, Trauma Recovery Specialist, owner of Lightspring Counseling Center and host of “Healing Talk” radio show, will discuss “Five Common Mistakes in Couple’s Communication. These common errors include:
Escalating a disagreement after partners have become upset creates damage to the relationship and has no benefits. When either partner has become angry or feels threatened or intimidated, the body’s arousal has changed, creating some level of flight, fight or freeze state. In any of these states, circulation to the brain is significantly reduced, particularly in the cerebral cortex. Reduced blood and reduced activity in the cerebral cortex means partners will be unlikely to really hear and understand each other, and will be unlikely to make fair-minded or thoughtful decisions. When the discussion becomes heated or emotional, good couple’s communication has come to an end.
If spouses will learn the skill of taking turns reflecting what is being said, neutrally and honestly, typically most of the energy in disagreements will subside, and spouses will be able to hear each other, compromise, or agree to disagree. If a conversation begins to heat up, spouses need to take a “time out” until they both are calm and can hear each other fairly.
Punishing a partner in an attempt to change their behavior is amazingly ineffective, and amazingly common. Punishment as a deterrent to bad behavior is marginally effective at best. Punishment as a motivation for good behavior is consistent failure. In a marriage, punishment is an abandonment of the equality of the partnership, and an attempt by one spouse to become the “parent” of the other. This always harms the relationship, as equality and respect are essential.
Spouses should handle each other’s problematic behaviors through negotiating, expressing feelings calmly and respectfully, explaining boundaries and taking essential actions. Spouses also need to accept their spouse as a unique individual, and recognize that marriage does not entitle them to “remodel” another person.
Rigid Thinking occurs when a partner assumes that his or her way of doing things is the only right way. Individuals grow up in a family culture that they usually assume represents a much larger culture. Thus it is a starting assumption that “my family was normal and average and correct in their way of doing things.” Although most individuals of marriage age have identified some things in their family culture that they want to change, there is typically a great deal more that they unconsciously accept and assume to be the “right way” to handle various aspects of married life.
Whenever there is a disagreement about how to handle a situation, spouses need to start with the assumption that their partner’s position has some validity behind it. Both partners need to listen carefully and understand their partner’s way of doing things, and work to find compromises, or else alternate between choosing “his way” and “her way” so that each partner’s preferences and family culture become part of the new marriage and effective couples communication.
Criticism is closely related to punishment. Both are based on the idea that an individual has the right to overhaul or remodel their partner. Although it is true that individuals will always have to make some changes to facilitate a marriage partnership, partners should be very respectful about requesting a change, and should focus a great deal more energy and time on noticing and admiring a partner’s strengths and qualities.
Expressing gratitude for any increments of change and improvement is a much more effective way of changing behavior than criticism or punishment. This approach also strengthens the relationship instead of weakening it.
Triangulating involves turning to a third party to try to resolve tensions between spouses. Common forms of triangulating in couples communication involve talking to a relative or family member to get them to influence the spouse in some way; sending messages through the children; punishing the children to demonstrate anger against the spouse; gossiping or broadcasting a spouse’s weaknesses to do others, or complaining to a marriage counselor to get him or her to “fix” the spouse.
Conflicts, frustrations and disagreements between the couple should be resolved by conversations between the couple. Children should be kept entirely out of parent’s conflicts. Unskilled third parties should also be avoided. A skilled third party such as a therapist may be helpful to act as a referee and teach advanced communication skills. However, spouses should talk to each other directly about their concerns, even in a counseling session, rather than communicating their frustrations indirectly by talking to their therapist in front of the spouse to make sure the partner hears, or by meeting alone with the therapist and trying to get the therapist to “fix” the spouse.
About “Healing Talk” Talk Radio Show: The Healing Talk Radio Show explores the best of current research in emotional and relationship healing. Hosted by Diana Hoffman, Licensed Professional Counselor and Trauma Recovery Specialist in Salem, Utah. Listen every Saturday at 9 a.m. on Planetary Streams Talk Radio. Listen to internet replay daily at 9 am, 5 pm and 2 am Mountain Time on http://www.planetarystreams.com, http://www.wcww.com and http://www.shoutcast.com. Contact: email@example.com or visit the website, http://www.healingtalkradio.com.