Making a relationship work and last takes a lot of time effort from both partners and while there is no magic recipe for making a relationship work, couples communication exercises do help a great deal in enhancing the understanding and coordination between the two partners. Couples communication worksheets can also be prepared to boost communication between them.
We did an interview with renowned Mumbai-based psychiatrist, Dr Gopa Khan about how to get the best out of couples communication exercises.
How Can Couples Communication Exercises Make A Relationship Better?
Well, communication is the basis for strong bonding between couples. Communication between couples is often lost due to constant fighting and disagreements between them. Therefore, it is very important to facilitate regular communication in a couple. Understanding each others’ needs/requirements and empathizing with them is the primary target of couples’ communication exercises in a couples’ therapy session.
Initially, the couples communication exercises may seem to be a very odd thing to do, but we tell the clients to practise them on a regular basis and with time it becomes like second nature to them. Empathizing with each other, sharing each other’s feelings, all these have a huge role to play in order to improve the communication between the clients.
What Is The Difference Between A Couples’ Therapy And Couples Communication Exercises?
Well, couples therapy will include the basic couples communication dialogue. We have to teach them how to communicate with each other, because nothing else can help to that extent. One thing that each and every couple will take away from this is how to communicate with each other, how to have a dialogue.
Through couples communication exercises we teach couples how to reach out to each other, how to deal with anger, how they can share their feelings with each other and how to deal with the day-to-day issues in their life. One of the things that I tell my clients is that spend at least half an hour in each other’s company, with no other distractions or without taking up any other work.
They can go to a café or some other place, the main thing is that they have to practise spending time with each other outside the therapy session. You cannot scream and yell at each other in public, you know very well that you have to maintain your decorum in a public place like a café so they can resolve their issues there with civility.
One very integral part of couples therapy is mirroring each other. The other aspect is validating each other. This does not necessarily mean agreeing with each other, but telling, “Yes, I hear you this is how you are feeling/what you are going through.” Also, empathizing with the other person’s feelings and not brushing them off.
Is Anger A Major Reason For Which People Need To Do Couples Communication Exercises?
Yes they should be constraining their anger. They can learn to talk to each other in a safe zone and yet, not go overboard with it. They can address their issues and not go to such an extent that it becomes an all-night fight. I’ve seen couples who are always fighting with each other, almost in a relentless manner.
They can be assertive in their communication, they can express their thoughts, they can express their feelings clearly. Some of them are very passive with each other, some are aggressive, sometimes they can be passive-aggressive. Sometimes, they can also be very manipulative with each other. These tendencies should be strictly avoided.
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How Can One Avoid Being Perpetually Angry?
Basically, what I tell my clients is to be honest with each other. Respect each other’s feelings and know each other’s boundaries. Pretend that there is a guest in your house, that way you cannot be rude to each other.
Every day try to do something that will improve your relationship and improve the dynamics between you two, at least by 0.5%. They can think about something they could do in order to make their relationship better. It can be something as simple as picking up the laundry, because their spouse is going to work late that day. Also, another thing I tell my clients is to appreciate each other. They could take even ten seconds out of their busy schedules and tell what qualities they like in their spouse, and what they appreciate about them.
Add humour to your relationship. Simple gestures like biding each other good bye before they leave for work, asking, “How was your day?” when they come back from work, physical affection like a hug or a pat on the back can work wonders. Even having one cup of tea or coffee together before their daily grind begins is very helpful.
Another thing we tell them is to go and watch if there are any nice movies happening in the cinema. We also encourage them to go on dates together, or even go for a walk together. Once every two-three months, they can take a break on the weekend and go travelling together, spend quality time with each other.
9 Couples Communication Exercises Couples Can Try Out
They can write down their resolution, why they are coming for the couples therapy or couples communication. If they are clear about what they want from the very beginning that makes the task a lot easier.
One very important target of couples communication exercise is conflict resolution. Uninterrupted listening paves the way for the same.
Here are some fun relationship exercises for couples that would surely improve the dynamics between them and enhance the communication between them as well.
Listening to what the other person has to say and the issues that they are facing can help solve big problems and sometimes also helps us in noticing the things that we usually overlook during the course of a conversation.
Related Reading: Here’s how you can improve your relationship by listening better
2. Shared activities
Shared activities include several fun trust exercises for couples, which include playing a sport together, perhaps going to the golf club in the morning or even going to Sunday brunch or a mere cup of coffee together does work out. The couple needs to make sure that they are partaking in an activity that mutually interests them both.
While listening to your partner is important, merely hearing their words and not doing anything about it wouldn’t do anybody any good. Hear them out, acknowledge the information they give you or the feelings they express about your behaviour or a certain action of yours and decide your next step.
Undoubtedly very important. Introspect within yourself and you will find areas where you have faltered. Rectify yourself before continually finding faults with other people.
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One of the fundamental mistakes that most people make in a marriage or in relationships is that they fail to acknowledge or appreciate their partner enough. While lavishing them with attention or expensive gifts might work up to a certain extent, what they are really looking for are a few kind words of appreciation.
6. Be pleasant and cooperative
Understand that your partner is as humane as you are and being nice does not cost anything and would be beneficial to you in the long run especially when it comes to your life partner.
7. Be respectful
Mutual respect is one of the fundamentals of a relationship that has been working for several centuries now. Yet we find men being disrespectful towards their wives and vice-versa. They forget to remember that no material items would suffice for the lack of respect. It would automatically mean there is no love in the relationship as well, where there is a dearth of respect.
Related Reading: 8 ways to fight respectfully with your spouse
8. Make eye contact and be firm in your stance
These indicate that you are strong and sure-footed about where you are and where you wish to see yourself in the future. Making eye contact is also imperative in putting your message across to your partner.
Wherever necessary issuing an apology does not make one a smaller man and does not take away from his or her credibility. If the situation deserves an apology, you should tender one and this does not bring any shame to you.
Trying out these couples communication exercises to build trust and improve communication in your marriage thus creating a more emotionally fulfilling relationship.