February 2021

Mental Health Moment

Today’s Topic: Communication in Marriage

The hardest job you will ever have is being married!

You may ask, “why?” The answer to that is usually communication. 

A lot of married couples have issues with expressing their thoughts and ideas. When we get in conflict with our spouse we can forget about listening or being heard. I have a simple exercise you might want to try with your spouse.

Sit side by side and decide who is going to be the speaker and who is going to be the reflector.

Now the speaker makes a statement that is one clear statement. Try to keep it to one or two sentences. Start out simple. Speaker: “I think the sky is blue today.”

The reflector responds by repeating what the speaker has just said word for word: “You said: “I think the sky is blue today.” Be sure not to add your own comments or judgements about the statement.

The reflector asks: “Is that correct?” If the reflector is correct the speaker tells them that this is, indeed, what they said. 

Then the reflector now asks, “Can I Tell you how I feel about your statement?” After the speaker says “yes,” the reflector makes their own statement: “I believe you are right but the evening light is making the sky more purple.”

Now the speaker becomes the reflector and says: “You said, ‘I believe you are right but the evening light is making the sky more purple.’ Is that right?” If it is correct then the conversation moves on to more statements and more reflections on the beautiful sky.

What are we doing with all this clarifying? We are slowing the communication down to a snail’s pace. Why? Because we are making sure the speakers are heard and the reflectors are hearing EXACTLY what was said. 

When emotions are high, slow the conversation down.

Quite often a couple will tell me about an argument they had recently. As I discover, neither of them feel heard by the other and they weren’t listening either. They were not taking turns stating how they felt and they were walking all over the other persons statements. They were arguing at the speed of light and they can’t even tell me what the argument was about. 

We want to slow the process down to where it sounds like a slow motion ping pong match…
“I feel…………………………………………………….” BOINK!

“You said, ‘I feel…………………………………..'” BOINK!

“Is that correct?”………………………………………. BOINK!

“Yes.”…………….. BOINK!”

Can I tell you how I feel about your statement?……………………….. BOINK!

This way all can hear and all can be heard by the other. I hope this helps you in your communications with family, friends and spouses.

Roscoe Glisson

Licensed Mental Health Counselor

Want to chat more about this?  counseling@mstarchurch.org

The counselors at The Christian Counseling Center at MorningStar provides faith based Christian counseling in Tampa and surrounding cities. We have counselors who specialize in all stages of life, including children counseling, teen counseling, marriage counseling, and individual counseling for various struggles such as anxiety, trauma, grief, narcissism and more. More information can be found on our website at www.cccmstar.org.

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