Category: <span>Couples Therapy</span>

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Are You Ready To Communicate Your Feelings?

Communicating your feelings to your partner is sometimes easier said than done. A lot of times we struggle to find the words to really express ourselves, especially in a way that will be well received by our partners.

Sometimes, despite your best intentions, what should be Huxtable moments on the couch turn out like an episode of your favorite notorious reality TV Show. Communication difficulties are actually the number one reason couples divorce in the United States. According to one study, 67.5% of marriages that ended did so mainly because of communication problems.

Common Communication Pitfalls: 

  • Blaming your partner or criticizing them 
  • Being defensive when your partner shares their feelings 
  • Calling your partner names/labeling your partner negatively 
  • Giving the silent treatment – refusing to respond to your partner’s bids to communicate  
  • Interrupting or cutting your partner off
  • Shutting down and withdrawing emotionally and verbally. Giving the silent treatment. 

Difficulties with communication can lead to increased arguments/conflict, lack of trust, feelings of insecurity, emotional distancing, and overall stagnation and unhappiness in a relationship. Communication is a skill that is essential to a happy and healthy partnership and may take some practice.

Five Ways to Communicate Your Feelings In Relationships: 

five ways to communicate your feelings in relationships. Couples therapy. Take breaks. Use I statemets
  • Say What You Need – Think of what you need to resolve how you are feeling. What brought up the feelings in the first place? What needs attention, or what could your partner be missing? Our partners can’t read our minds and can misread behaviors. A way to reduce the tension is to begin to say what you need. That might sound like: I get really worried and scared if I don’t hear from you when you’re running late. Can you give me a call or text if you’re running late?
  • Use “I” Statements – “I” statements are a great way to express how you feel to your partner and avoid common pitfalls. Using “you” statements can quickly be taken as blaming and tends to raise the temperature of conflict. An example of this is, “I feel sad when we don’t spend time together” vs. “you never spend time with me” can you see the difference?
  • Label your feelings – Give words to how you feel. It is helpful for your partner to hear and know your exact emotions instead of going silent or communicating with passive-aggressive actions.  

Are You Ready To Communicate Your Feelings?

  • Take A Break – If conversations get difficult, it can be helpful to take a break and do something to self-soothe or calm the intensity of your emotions. To slow down the pace of the conflict, use an “I” statement and express your need for a break positively. That might sound like: I think I’m starting to get overwhelmed. Can you give me 20 minutes to calm down before we continue? Always revisit the conversation when you are calmer instead of ignoring or avoiding the issue. 

Relationships need healthy challenges that allow partners to grow together. Be patient with yourself and your partner, try a skill like validation and avoid those common communication pitfalls described above. As you improve your communication style, both in how you express yourself and respond to how others express themselves to you, you will see growth in your relationships. 

Think you might need some more practice in this area? Join us on 4.11.22 at 6 PM EST for a FREE Couples Workshop on Communication.  Our community deserves more skills, and we are here to facilitate it. Register in advance here 👈🏾

Article by Alyssa Heavens a Marriage and Family Associate at Kensho Psychotherapy Services. Piece edited by Supervisor and Mental Health Consultant, Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R

beloved african american couple cuddling and smiling on couch

The Power of Feeling Understood

We’ve all been there. Having a disagreement or argument with our partner and afterward wondering, “Why couldn’t she see where I was coming from?” or “Why couldn’t he agree that how I felt makes sense?”. These questions indicate our natural desire for validation.

Validation is recognizing or accepting that someone’s emotions, thoughts, or opinions have worth. In other words, being validated gives us a sense of being seen, heard, and understood.

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Even the most self-confident people, at one point of their lives, felt like outsiders or felt like they weren’t being heard or seen or witnessed in some way

Steve Carell

Validation is essential to have in all relationships, and in romantic relationships, it can make a tremendous difference when it comes to communication in a relationship. Couples will naturally disagree and or argue. One partner validating the other is one way to ease tension, build trust, and support getting to a solution in the smoothest way possible.

What Does Validation Look Like?

Validation is not simply agreeing with whatever your partner says. Many people think it is just agreeing with the other person and often share that feels like giving away your power or losing your voice (especially if you know they are wrong!). Most of us come into conversations in the defensive, but that stance takes away our power to see the other person’s point of view, and that point of view is where resolutions lie. Without question coming off defensive and listening can feel unnatural and almost painful at first, but eventually, you’ll see the benefits and get why it’s worth it.

Validation may look or sound like this, “I can see why this upset you” or “It makes sense why you felt that way. I see your point of view [reflect back what you think that is] and ask, do I have that right?”.

ways to validate your partner. Use empathy and communicate your needs clearly

To be clear, validation is not just saying repeating back the words; it should include some of these critical components:

  • Empathy – Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and imagine how you would feel if you had their experience. You can emotionally stay connected to your partner even through conflict with empathy. It also helps you respond with sincerity as you authentically acknowledge your partner’s perspective. 
  • Acceptance – Who doesn’t want to feel accepted? Acceptance from a partner means that they accept you for who you are and the feelings and perspectives that come with you even if they disagree with it at that moment. Acceptance also means being okay with having differing opinions. Not every disagreement will end with a complete agreement in the end. 

Validation is powerful because it allows for understanding even in the face of disagreements.

  • Active Listening & Understanding – You have to pay attention without your phone in your hand, emails at the desk, or concern for the kids. Being attentive to your partner’s ideas and feelings is a great way to validate. Actively listening to your partner means removing all distractions and focusing entirely on the conversation to develop understanding. This includes asking clarifying questions and summarizing/reflecting on what your partner says.

Related blog: How to practice being aware of your emotions

Why Does Validation Work?

Free couples workshop. You will learn how to speak and listen to your partner and validate your partner.
Join the free Workshop here

We all want to be understood and not get into conflict. Everyone wants to feel heard instead of ignored, minimized, or dismissed. So keep that in mind when you get into your next conversation.

Validation allows people to feel heard, so they don’t have to cling so tightly to their position. It is that simple, and it’s one of the reasons why so many conflicts go on so long and escalate to ridiculous proportions- we didn’t acknowledge the other person’s concerns.

Using the components of validation can help you better acknowledge your partner and help you move through conflict. Honestly, it’s a skill that can help in multiple settings, including at work, as parents, and even with your friends. It’s not always easy to remain in control of our feelings, but it gets better with practice.

If you feel like you and your partner would benefit from more practice, join our free upcoming communication workshop on 4.11.22 at 6PM EST by registering here.

Remember, validation does not mean that you agree with everything your partner says; validation is about making sure your partner does not feel alone in their experience.

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Alyssa Heavens is an associate at Kensho Psychotherapy Services specializing in Marriage and Family Counseling. Piece edited by Supervisor and Mental Health Consultant, Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R

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anxious, communication

What Anxious Attachment Looks Like in Relationships

Attachment styles are based on a theory that your early connections in childhood with your caregivers directly impact how you approach relationships today. If we – as children – believe that our needs cannot and won’t be met by those closest to us, we are likely to exhibit attachment issues throughout our lives. 

big family in kitchen and man feeding baby in feeding chair
Photo by Vanessa Loring on Pexels.com

It’s an intriguing psychological framework to make sense of why you behave the way you do in intimate relationships and even at work. Yes, attachment patterns can impact our daily lives beyond our family.

A lack of attunement or connection between parent and child can contribute to anxious attachments in adulthood, which is the focus of this blog. Anxiety is one of the most common experiences, with  1 in 13 people worldwide experiencing anxiety, including children. Those who tend to be more anxious and worry extensively about relationships are probably engaged in an anxious attachment style.

Anxious Attachment Style

People with this attachment style are often insecure in their relationships, with a high need for reassurance from their partners to know that they are still wanted or loved. 

This style of attachment can also show up as:

· Overthinking and analyzing what others say or do 

· Negative view of themselves and anxious or stressed out about how others perceive them 

· Overinvested in relationships (at work and outside of that)

· Worry that you are “too much” or need alot from others

· Strong fear of rejection and evaluation 

· Sensitivity to abandonment or being left out

· Trouble working independently and a heavy dependence on their partner or team to finish tasks

· Often feel underappreciated or dissatisfied 

The Power of Anxious Thinking

Our thoughts (in this cause anxious thoughts and overthinking), can impact how we feel and respond. We often don’t realize this dynamic is quickly happening in our minds. 

Anxious thoughts

Where do I go from here?

If you recognize these issues in yourself or someone you love, the good news is attachment styles can change with time, effort and support. Self-development starts with awareness and approaching yourself with self-compassion and not criticism. 

Some tips to continue to strengthen how you show up in relationships: 

  • Continue to look for patterns of responding or shutting down. Write them down. Being mindful of them will make it easier to shift how you respond. 
  • Work on it with your partner
  • Realize that past experiences do not have to hold you emotionally hostage
  • Develop new ways of communicating and asking for what you need. The more you can express what you need, like saying I need regular reassurance, the more empowered you can feel

Psychotherapist, Coach for Women

Amanda Fludd,LCSW-R is a licensed Psychotherapist, Corporate Trainer, and Mindset Coach to support the mind of the woman behind the business. In all avenues of life we have to learn to navigate fear and get to the root of our anxiety.

Disclaimer: This blog contains affiliate links. We may earn a small commission to fund our tea-drinking habits if you use these links to make a purchase. We only recommend products, tools, and services that we think would be beneficial to our audience.  

Intimacy, communication, anxious

Do We Need Therapy? Couples Edition.

The secret’s out, therapy can be a life-changing experience for individuals and couples navigating new or established relationships. Couples therapy aims to help a couple improve or better understand their style of relating and connecting. Healthy relationships don’t necessarily just happen; it results from applying skills like boundaries and practical communication approaches, which sometimes requires a professional.  

Couples therapy can be helpful because an objective party can potentially close the gap between you and your partner. It can be used for new couples, couples preparing for marriage, married couples, and even couples considering divorce.

Why should you participate in couples therapy?

Communication. The number one reason most couples go to therapy is for support with communication. As you may know, communication is a key element in any relationship’s success, but especially for intimate relationships.  

Have you ever had a conversation with your partner that immediately turned to arguments or quickly escalated into a shouting match? Maybe you’ve left an encounter feeling manipulated or dismissed? Or worse, feeling alone or disappointed with the quality of your relationship. 

That is where couple’s therapy can come in to lend the tools to navigate the intense emotions that come into communication dynamics. The goals are to help create space to explore more understanding and empathy between partners and foster fulfilling partnerships. For minority couples, therapy is an excellent resource for validating the black and brown experience, with opportunities to experience restorative conversations. 

For example, historically, many Black men have learned messages that certain emotions are not ok to express and are a sign of weakness. This is similar for many minority groups who culturally may not have been taught how to be vulnerable or have that role modeled in their lives. Black women may be more open with their emotions but are also taught to be superwomen and hide their struggles, even when overwhelmed and falling apart. These dynamics within a relationship can easily lead to misunderstandings and conflicts.  

Expressing your feelings doesn’t diminish your masculinity or weaken your strength as a woman

You need to know that expressing yourself doesn’t diminish your masculinity or weaken your strength as a woman. Relationship dynamics can challenge that at times, and we can’t stress enough, you are not alone in that experience.  

Trauma. Trauma is a profound loss of control. By the time we come into adulthood, most of us have had to experience at least two traumatic events, if not more. Events such as a significant loss, experiencing a parent incarcerated or subjected to alcohol or substance use, sexual trauma, lingering intergenerational family trauma, witnessing community trauma, experiencing abuse or neglect.  

Trauma directly impacts our ability to trust and connect with others. It affects intimacy, one’s ability to know and express your emotions, and even your ability to be emotionally available to others. Couples therapy can be a valuable tool for couples where one or both partners are looking to heal. 

Passion/ Sex Related Issues. Sex is still a taboo topic in most cultures and most relationships. Couples who struggle in the bedroom need not be ashamed. Many factors can affect a couple’s sex life. At times there are emotional aspects of that (such as trauma mentioned above or other fears or anxieties) that can be addressed with the support of a couple’s therapist. 

Intimacy

Infidelity. Infidelity often alters the trajectory of a relationship and can lead to issues related to trust, intimacy, and forgiveness. Many couples seek therapy as a sincere effort to save the relationship and heal from the damage infidelity can cause, or even to resolve these issues and amicably separate.  

While there are many other reasons to engage in couple’s therapy, like boundary issues, differing parenting styles, navigating the health of a spouse, finances or just wanting core skills to support your relationship- whatever the reason it can be especially validating to hear from a professional.  

If you are experiencing any of the above or other relationship concerns, please contact the practice as we have several openings for couples. Additionally, keep an eye out for future couples’ workshops hosted at Kensho Psychotherapy Services, where couples can come together to learn tips and strategies to make their relationships stronger. 

Written by Alyssa Heavens, MFT Intern and edited by Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R, Psychotherapist, Clinical Supervisor & Mental Health Consultant 

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