Are you and your partner having troubles in your relationship? Are you having disagreements, or finding it hard to see eye to eye?
When we ignore those trivial misunderstandings and little problems, they can fester inside and grow into burning resentments that often explode out during arguments, and it’s not pleasant for either of you.
Here’s a simple exercise that will give you the chance to speak and be heard, help you to listen to one another, and to communicate more effectively.
Couples Communication Exercise
Put aside all distractions. Turn off your phones, make sure any children or pets are safe and unlikely to interrupt.
Set a timer for 5 minutes.
Partner 1 has their turn to speak about whatever’s on their mind.
Partner 2 listens without interrupting until the timer goes off.
Partner 2 reflects back what Partner 1 has spoken about (without giving their side of the story, or arguing etc; simply relaying what the other person has said, so it’s clear that they’ve heard and understood)
Set the timer for another 5 minutes and repeat. Now Partner 2 gets their turn to speak about whatever they want to speak about. It may be the same subject as Partner 1, or a completely different topic.
Afterwards, reflect: was it easier for one partner to speak? Was there temptation to speak for longer than the allocated time? Was there resistance in either person? How are you both feeling now?
Agree on a regular time/day to do this exercise; eg 8pm on Monday and Thursday (or less / more, depending on whether both your schedules allow).
Each time you do the exercise, take turns in going first, to keep it fair.
When you get into the habit of communicating in this way, you can both practice listening to each other without interrupting and diving in to try and get your point across without letting the other person speak.
It gives both parties the opportunity to speak, and balances out relationships where one person tends to stay silent and hold their feelings in due to fear of confrontation, or simply because they’re not used to it.
If you’re having problems in your relationship and you’d like to speak confidentially about it on a one-to-one basis, get in touch to book some private counselling sessions with me.
Sessions are held remotely over Zoom / Facetime / Telephone, so you can work with me no matter where you’re located.
Lisa Murphy is a counsellor and hypnotherapist based in Glasgow who specialises in anxiety, anger management, and weight loss.