When Should a Married Couple Seek Help for Their Communication Problems?
Sex, money, and communication: We often hear about these as the “big three” behind marital conflicts and failures. Sex is the one we talk about most often, with problems in the bedroom and infidelity being at the center of most discussions about marital problems. Money is a distant, but growing, second. Financial infidelity is an increasingly important topic. Men and women are adjusting in trying to balance shifts in breadwinner roles, and a struggling economy is bringing more eyes to how financial issues affect our homes.
Even small issues can become major stumbling blocks when we don’t know how to communicate.
But communication generally flies under the radar, and ironically, it may be the most important piece of the three. In fact, in a survey of marriage counseling professionals, communication problems were rated the number one reason couples divorce, coming in ahead of both infidelity and financial issues.
Because regardless of the obstacle in a given situation, if we can effectively communicate about the issues and work through the conflict, we can keep our marriages intact in spite of what problems come our way. On the flip side, even small issues can become major stumbling blocks when we don’t know how to communicate in order to navigate through them.
Communication is at the heart of everything we do in marriage. Whether it’s through daily interactions or through managing disagreements, our successes and failures in marriage hinge upon what and how we’re communicating to our spouses with our words and our actions. Yet communication is just as complex as it is vital. What you say, how you say it, your body language, your tone of voice, and even how you grew up are just a few of the many pieces to the communications puzzle. Neglect to consider its many moving parts and risk turning effective communication into conflict.
When to Seek Help
When should you as a married couple seek help with a communication problem? Early.
You may not need to run to your therapist’s office the first time you disagree about the placement of the toilet paper, but when you begin realizing that you have a problem that is hard to navigate on your own, don’t be afraid to reach out for a counselor’s help. Instead of seeking support when signs of a communication problem are new, most couples wait until they’re on the verge of marital collapse to get help from the outside. Brian D. Doss, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Miami, said in a 2012 New York Times article that the average couple is unhappy for six years before seeking couples counseling.
Both of you have had a lifetime to devise your ways of communicating and have developed your own methods of communicating with each other, whether they’re working or not. It may take an outside, professional eye and ear to help you speak each other’s language and get on the right track.
The road to communicating effectively in marriage can be long, complicated and bumpy, but if you operate from a place of understanding, communicate honestly and often, and reach out for help when the road gets too rough, you will be able to keep holding on to each other’s hands as you travel down the rest of your marriage path together.
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