Edmonton Psychologist | Couples Therapy Strategies
Every relationship has conflict. When two people come together they bring their own ideals, values and experiences with them. Eventually those will clash in a relationship. The clash or the conflict is not the problem though because it’s inevitable. How you deal with the conflict is where the problems start to come into play. When you learn how to conflict in a healthy way, your relationships can flourish.
Maybe you are not quite at the place where you want to have professional guidance. That is completely acceptable. You must want help and be committed and willing to work with an objective person. This is especially true for the couple. Both parties must be willing and committed to open up and share as well as dig deeper with each other. If your partner and you are not quite at that place, you can still read further to find some important information to help you discover more about yourself and how you relate to others around you.
Strategies to use
If you come to couples therapy the following strategies are ones you may see put in to practice. These are to help you improve and enhance your relationship.
The first is reflective listening. This is when each person has the chance to speak and share, while the other actively listens. It is imperative that when you are speaking you are using “I” statements, rather than “you” statements. This breaks down the defenses and allows for healthy communication as well as conflict resolutions skills to be strengthened. An example would be “I feel hurt when you do this” rather than “you hurt me.”
Another technique often used in couples therapy is emotionally focused therapy. EFT helps with changing behaviours over the long haul. The couple learns to create secure and safe attachments with one another by first unearthing damaging patterns in the relationship.
Narrative therapy is another great technique. This is done through rewriting the narrative that plays in the individual’s mind. The client might feel that their relationship failed because it was doomed from the start due to them personally being a failure. Narrative therapy helps to separate the problem from the person.
What is the Gottman Method
The Gottman Method is a tremendous success in couple’s therapy. It is an entire system of dealing with conflict in relationships. Some of the issues that the Gottman Method helps with are frequent arguments or conflict, poor communication, emotionally distant or disconnected to the point of separation and very specific issues like infidelity, parenting, finances, and sexual difficulties.
Imago relationship theory is a unique but helpful approach to dealing with conflict in a marriage. This is where you the couple works to empathize with each other based on the childhood trauma that is uncovered in therapy sessions. The hope is to make the connection between adult and childhood experiences.
Work through the conflict together
When it comes to working through conflict there are a number of methods that will be effective. The following are some exercises that you can do right now in your relationship without the aid of the therapist. These practical applications can help you today. Find topics that you can go to a deeper level together. This requires you to talk beyond the simple topics like the weather or what is for dinner.
When you express gratitude or appreciation for one another you help your communication get stronger. The relationship becomes a safer and more loving place as well. Try to do this every single day in a variety of ways, like text, in person, on paper or a phone call.
This next exercise will reveal so much about yourself and your partner. Find out what your partner’s love language is. Each of us receive love in five different ways, according to Dr. Gary Chapman. These are receiving gifts, acts of service, words of affirmation, quality time and physical touch. You can even go online together to take a quiz to find out which is your preference.
Talk it out
Schedule important conversations. This will alleviate any feeling of ambush in a spur of the moment conversation that requires more thought and calm feelings. In addition to this pencil in one-on-one time where nothing supersedes it. This is couples time and should be protected.
Show interest in each other’s day by asking one another more open-ended questions like what was the best or worst part of your day? These focused minutes can really help your partner feel valued and cared for. After you have done this sharing why don’t you throw in a six second kiss. According to Gottman, this kiss will help connect you and help you release the tension from the day too.
Unplug from your devices to help with communication and connection. This will be a challenge at first but the lasting impact on your relationship will be a positive one. This is a wonderful time to also practice eye gazing and cuddling. Gazing into one another’s eyes can increase trust by being vulnerable with one another. When technology is absent, you can become more physically present with each other which will deepen the intimacy and connection you have.
Communicate your wants
This next one may be hard to do if you are worried about offending your partner. Make a list of what you want from your partner and share it with them. Reassure them that you just want to be heard and understood and it is not a list of ways they don’t measure up. It can even just be three things.
Get expert advice
One of the key elements to working through conflict is to enlist the help of the professional. A psychologist or a therapist are trained in helping couples work through conflict in a constructive, less damaging way. At ReDiscover Psychological Services we have affordable therapists that can help you through any turbulence in your marriage and any other relationship. We are just a free phone call away. We offer online and in person or even over the phone appointments. We are passionate about helping our clients thrive in their relationships. The tools and strategies we use will help you rediscover yourself and your relationships. Visit us online or call to book a complimentary 15-minute session.