Straight Talk

Appears in the April 2018 issue.

Marriage counselor Michael Guglielmo offers tips for connecting and communicating

When couples first come to see me at Conventions Psychiatry and Counseling, the first thing we work on is healthy communication. If a couple is communicating well there is less conflict overall. Resolving to win is not good for a relationship—the goal is to strengthen the relationship. You can make your partnership better with motivation and commitment. Spending time together is essential, so schedule weekly dates in order to reconnect and communicate. 

Five Steps to Healthy Communication

  1. Don’t expect your partner to read your mind. Express yourself openly and avoid bringing up the past—it puts your partner on the defensive and stops communication. Focus on the present.
  2. Don’t let things build up. Talk about issues as they come up. If you don’t, feelings build up, which can build resentment and you’re more likely to explode.
  3. Express positive feelings. Get in the habit of sharing your heartfelt feelings to your partner—not only compliments, but what you appreciate really about his or her personality.
  4. Use active sharing. If you want a closer relationship this is a big piece of building intimacy. How you share is important, too. Some rules: Use “I” instead of “you” statements, and avoid yelling, name calling, profanity, blaming or attacking. Blame makes the other person walk away from the conversation, ignore it or rationalize it, and then communication is over.
  5. Be an active listener. Listen closely and then reflect back to your partner what you’ve heard to validate him or her. Some stems you can use are “So you mean…,” “What you’re saying is….” Using clarifying statements allows the other person to hear what was said; he or she then has a chance to modify it.