By Julie Wales, Family & Special Needs Counsellor 
 
I was driving somewhere recently and there was a road closure and a diversion. The sat nav was not making sense. I ended up going around in circles covering the same route and not getting anywhere fast. I was completely lost, stressed and exhausted! 
 
This is a familiar situation many couples find themselves in when they are having recurrent arguments or disagreements and feel like they are going around in circles and feeling lost! 
 
In my practice as a couple’s counsellor, I have the privilege of guiding partners towards a new roadmap, deeper understanding and stronger connections. Relationships are complex, but with the right tools and techniques, couples can overcome communication barriers and rekindle their emotional intimacy. Here’s how I work with couples to enhance their communication and connection. 

Active Listening: The Foundation of Effective Communication 

One of the first skills I emphasize is active listening. Many conflicts arise not from what is said, but from how it is heard - or not heard. I teach couples to: 
 
Listen without Interrupting: Allowing each partner to express their thoughts fully without interruption helps prevent misunderstandings. 
Reflect and Paraphrase: After one partner speaks, the other paraphrases what was said to ensure accurate understanding. This simple act can significantly reduce miscommunication. 

Expressing Feelings: Moving Beyond the Surface 

Communication isn’t just about words; it’s also about emotions. I encourage couples to: 
 
Use "I" Statements: By saying "I feel" instead of "You make me feel," partners can express their emotions without assigning blame. 
Be Honest and Vulnerable: Sharing true feelings, even when they’re difficult, fosters a deeper emotional connection. 

Nonverbal Communication: The Unspoken Language 

Often, what we don’t say speaks volumes. I help couples become more aware of their nonverbal communication by: 
 
Observing Body Language: Encouraging eye contact, open postures, and appropriate touch can enhance feelings of closeness and understanding. 
Matching Words with Actions: Consistency between verbal and nonverbal messages builds trust and clarity. 

Empathy: Walking in Each Other’s Shoes 

Empathy is crucial for understanding and validating each other’s experiences. I guide couples to: 
 
Practice Empathic Listening: Focusing on understanding the partner’s perspective without judgment. 
Validate Feelings: Acknowledging each other’s emotions, even if they don’t fully understand them, creates a supportive environment. 

Practical Techniques and Exercises 

I incorporate various exercises to build and strengthen these skills: 
 
Reflective Listening Exercises: Partners take turns speaking and reflecting back what they heard, which fosters mutual understanding. 
Daily Check-Ins: Establishing a routine of brief, daily conversations about feelings and experiences helps maintain ongoing connection. 
The 5 Love Languages: Helping couples identify and express their love languages (words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, physical touch) ensures they feel appreciated and loved in ways that matter most to them. 
Conflict Resolution Skills: Teaching techniques for resolving disagreements respectfully and constructively, such as brainstorming solutions together and compromising. 

Building and Maintaining Connection 

In addition to communication, maintaining a strong connection is vital. I support couples in: 
 
Spending Quality Time Together: Encouraging regular date nights or shared hobbies to keep the relationship fresh and fun. 
Working on Shared Goals: Collaborating on projects or goals strengthens the partnership and provides a sense of accomplishment. 
Enhancing Physical Intimacy: Addressing any physical intimacy issues and ensuring both partners feel comfortable and fulfilled. 

Addressing Specific Challenges 

Every couple faces unique challenges, and I tailor my approach to meet their specific needs: 
 
Rebuilding Trust: For couples dealing with trust issues, I work on transparency, honesty, and consistency. 
Infidelity Recovery: Helping couples navigate the difficult process of healing and rebuilding trust after infidelity. 
Adapting to Different Communication Styles: Assisting partners in understanding and adapting to each other’s communication preferences. 
Navigating Life Transitions: Guiding couples through significant life changes, such as having children or career shifts, by fostering open communication and mutual support. 

Continuous Growth and Development 

To provide the best support, I continuously enhance my skills through: 
 
Ongoing Education: Staying updated with the latest research and techniques in relationship counselling. 
Professional Supervision and Support: Seeking supervision and engaging in professional networks to share experiences and gain insights. 
Helping couples improve their communication and connection is a rewarding journey. I love it! 
 
Call Julie Wales: 07412651894 
Email: hello@juliewalescounselling.co.uk 
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