Most people starting couples therapy come in focused on their partners’ flaws. Few people come into my office and say, “We’re here because I complain too often, I yell all the time and don’t help out around the house.” It’s understandable that when you’ve been repeatedly hurt by your partner, you would be defensive and see the need for change in them. Nevertheless, the only changes you can make happen are changes in the way you show up in the relationship during the good times and the bad. You take control of your relationships by learning to change yourself first.
4 Relationship Patterns to Look Out For
Renowned couples therapists, Drs. John and Julie Gottman have identified four communication patterns that are detrimental to relationships and often result in divorce. These are called the Four Horsemen:
4 Ways to Mend Communication Mistakes
1. Antidote for Criticism: Gentle Start-up.Be cognizant of how you’re feeling and avoid voicing complaints when you’re tired or already frustrated or angry. Talk about what you’re feeling and make specific requests for what you need.
2. Antidote for Contempt: Build AppreciationRemind yourself and your partner of the reasons you love and appreciate them by verbalizing it on a regular basis.
3. Antidote for Defensiveness: Take ResponsibilityRecognize the validity of your partner’s perspective and offer an apology when needed
4. Antidote for Stonewalling/Withdrawal: Self-Soothe and RejoinTake a time out to recognize any overwhelming emotions. Self-soothe and practice self-care but then return to the conversation when you’re ready.
How Healthy Are Your Communication Habits?
-By Guest Writer Ashley Giles, LCSW
If you are struggling and would like help, we have Houston, Texas Counselors who can meet with you. You can contact us 713 -591- 3612 or by email at Nancy @ wilsoncounseling. org. This blog is not intended to substitute for professional counseling.