Q. My husband and I are in counseling to learn how to be better communicators. Why does this sound so easy yet so hard to do? Do you have some “Communication for Dummies” lists that might be helpful?
A. “First lets talk about the obvious:
1. Don’t talk about important issues while watching TV, looking at your phone or sitting in front of the computer. 2. Look at each other. (eye contact is almost harder than communicating) 3. Don’t bring up important issues if you are not in the same room. 4. Don’t talk about important topics if you are hungry, tired, sick or distracted. (so you are sitting there thinking, “when am I not tired or distracted?)
Tips for women:
1. When you ask a question, give him a few seconds to answer. (Men usually take longer to think about their answer). 2. Don’t talk for him. Do not tell him what you think “he thinks.” 3. Don’t interrupt him. Let him talk. Patience!! 4. Practice the 24 hour rule. If he does something/says something that you are still thinking/feeling 24 hours after it happens, tell him. Do not store it!! Stored feelings result in resentments and they are VERY hard to move past. 5. When your husband tells you something you have done that bothered him; you also listen. Men can store feelings too.
Tips for men:
1. When she asks you a question, take a few seconds, not all day. (If you don’t have an answer, tell her you don’t. If you sit there long enough without responding, she will ask again). 2. Give her a response or she may “think for you.” (And it could be wrong.) 3. Tell her that you will not be talking if she continues to interrupt you. 4. When she tells you something you have said/done that bothered her, do not roll your eyes or look away, listen to her, look at her. I promise, this will benefit you in the long run. 5. Don’t me the man who says, “I never really get angry, that stuff just rolls off my back.” Trust me, it can roll right into the resentment file and pop out during your next argument.
One of the most common presenting issues in counseling is women who have been trying to tell their husband’s something that really bothers them and their husband don’t take it seriously.
You are right, communication sounds easy but takes ongoing practice.
Vicki L Mayfield, M.Ed., R.N., LMFT Marriage and Family Therapy Oklahoma City
If you would like to send a question to Vicki, email us at [email protected]