Ask a therapist
We want to grow together but…
Every Friday, we open our Instagram to the Ours community and let couples submit questions to our team of couples therapists. We pick the most interesting ones and write our thoughts here. This week’s question is: “We want to grow together but have trouble communicating our feelings and needs — help!”
I have a chemistry call with all of the couples I meet with to figure out if we “click.” Research shows that the #1 predictor of success in your therapy is how comfortable and open you feel with your therapist, and this is the first comment that almost always comes up after I ask, “what brings you to couples therapy?”
This reflection is a powerful one in that there is an acknowledgement by the couple that they both contribute to their communication challenges. They steer clear of the blame game. That’s already a step. It’s an admission that, yes, we want to grow together, but our struggles with expressing feelings and needs are impeding our progress.
And, there is no one-size-fits-all formula on best communication practices. While literature on communication practices offers valuable insights, it falls short of capturing the intricacies rooted in our lived experiences and the narratives we construct. That can only be explored as a couple, in a therapeutic setting.
Here are some considerations to think about (BEFORE you schedule that first session):
What are you taking for granted?
The declaration, “we want to grow together,” signals a willingness to extend beyond comfort zones. Now is a great time to reflect on the aspects of your relationship where communication flows effortlessly. What makes these areas different? Identifying the strengths can provide a solid foundation for addressing challenges.
What are your patterns?
Recognize recurring arguments and phrases that surface during conflicts. Are there certain phrases that only come out when you’re arguing? Slowing down and being aware of what’s actually being said and why we’re saying it is the first step toward breaking unhelpful patterns that hinder productive dialogue.
Define what a productive conversation means to you. Acknowledge and respect the differences, allowing room for disagreement while maintaining acceptance and appreciation for individuality.
Initiate challenging conversations by expressing appreciation for each other. Starting on a positive note strengthens the connection, making it easier to navigate through sensitive topics. It’s a simple tweak that sets the stage for a constructive interaction.
Can you truly hear your partner’s side?
One of the most difficult challenges in relationships is seeing beyond our perspective. We talk a good game, but it’s really quite hard. We have to appreciate our differences in how we feel and think. And respect the individuality of thoughts, even when they are in direct conflict to how we feel. True listening demands courage – the courage to temporarily detach from personal narratives and embrace your partner’s viewpoint.
Ensure you’re in the right mindset to listen, considering factors like physical well-being and emotional stability. Honoring and communicating your current emotional state, even if not ready to fully embrace alternative perspectives, reflects emotional maturity and a secure relationship with oneself.
Navigating the complexities of communication in relationships is like an ongoing dance, constantly evolving and changing as your relationship matures. There’s a profound beauty in the continuous evolution and growth of your relationship. Embrace the journey, commit to understanding, and cultivate the communication skills necessary for mutual growth.
Meet a therapist like Benu
Couples therapy and premarital counseling on Ours with world-class therapists, just like Benu.