When couples arrive in therapy, they've often been going around in circles of frustration and resentment and part of my job can be to remind them how to play nicely. It's odd of course because they're usually intelligent people who communicate perfectly well with everyone else. If familiarity is breeding contempt in your marriage, then the fact is -- you're doing it wrong -- and you better get skilled up and back on track quickly. Research tells us that nothing kills love and leads to divorce faster or more mercilessly than criticism, contempt, aggression and defensiveness in a marriage.
Don't know how to start making things better? The fact is that if you've gotten into negative and distancing patterns you're both going to have to do some serious work to get to the bottom of what's causing that stuff. However, just to start dealing with it and getting onto a better relationship trajectory you'll need to get communication back on track. Here's a simple model called the OCEAN method of communication. It's all about getting couple communication right again and it's taught by many therapists.
The OCEAN Model of Communication
O = Owning the problem
Blaming and shifting responsibility works about as well for solving problems as running away or closing your eyes and pretending it isn't happening! To take responsibility and get into resolution mode you may have to change the way you think about issues E.g., Owning your part in the problem rather than blaming and resenting your partner as the only contributor.
C = Change your thinking
When you decide to look at an issue from both sides you might start to see that you are empowered to change your perspective and subsequently your behaviour. You can step out of your part in the dysfunctional cycle and slow things right down. Know better = do better.
E = Express the problem in a way that engages rather than offends
E.g., ''I feel upset when I believe I'm doing all the housework. I'd love to have your help and work as a team.'' Is a whole lot more potentially engaging and healing than:
''You're so slack, you never help me around the house. You don't care about me!''
A = Ask for help assertively
Nobody can mind-read. Ask for what you want rather than complaining and criticising your partner's character.
N = Negotiate
Sometimes you might have to give your partner's point of view a chance. Don't be too stuck in your perspective. Listen and you may learn something new. Justifying your position and refusing to see other perspectives is the best way to stay stuck in what's not working for you.
For more relationship help and practical ways to rekindle communication and passion in your relationship check out the free online couple retreat -- real strategies in your own time and space to maximise your connection and happiness.
Just BE the love that you ARE.