You and your partner are at it again. Entering your next heated argument, you notice the typical pattern. Her voice gets louder and you can feel yourself becoming overwhelmed. You start to retreat. She starts to yell. You’re off to the races…
Couples stuck in patterns like this and much worse, often tell me, “We just need to communicate better. We’d like some tools on how to do that.” Kindly but directly, I tell them they’re mistaken. Communication tools are not what they need. And I doubt you and your partner do either
Outside of your arguments, you communicate just fine. You’re likely communicating well at your job, in your friendships, and even with your partner when you’re not caught in an argument. Communication just isn’t a primary issue. You already have most of the skills, tools, techniques you need. Sure, we can all use some fine tuning, but the truth is, communication isn’t the true cause to your arguments.
Communication is absolutely a cornerstone to a secure relationship. Simply put, we want to share vital information with our partner. But within struggling relationships, the breakdown of communication is rooted in a deeper pattern of disconnection. A disconnection that blocks our core emotional needs from being known.
And most of us struggle to grasp what these emotional needs are, let alone struggling to know how to express them. It’s an edgy vulnerable place to open the heart first to ourselves and then to our partners. We often receive messages throughout life that it’s weak to need someone and to emotionally depend on others. We fear we’ll only be let down, dismissed, and rejected.
Rather than learn cognitive skills of how to talk or listen, what distressed couples need most is a guide into their own heart and the heart of their partner. This is why the work myself and other emotionally focused therapists provide is so powerfully effective in transforming relationships into secure havens for true lasting emotional connection.
It’s not about “fighting fair.” It’s not about active listening or “I” statements.
It’s about learning to open the heart to reveal our deepest needs and longings.