Get the Right Help
by Dr. Jay Lindsay
“We’re having communication problems,” the caller lamented. “We’ve been fighting ever since our honeymoon one year ago. Neither of us feels heard or understood by the other. We love each other, but we just can’t communicate.”
As a marital therapist, the most common complaint I hear from couples who contact me for help is communication problems.
In the early years of my practice, I used to invite distressed couples to come in and let me teach them more effective communication skills. Now, I know better.
What have I learned?
1. Insight: Most distressed couples are too distressed to make good use of communication skills training.
Yet that’s where many therapists start with distressed couples: trying to teach them how to communicate better. It’s a mistake.
The partners are so angry that they just use their new communication skills to beat up on each other all the more. Their fights get worse!
Later on after their distress has been alleviated and anger has abated, learning to communicate better might help, but not at the start.
Numerous research studies show a high failure rate for communication skills training when used to treat distressed couples, yet this continues to be the treatment of choice for many therapists.
Tip: If you’re in relationship distress and a therapist you call wants to teach you communication skills, find another therapist.
2. Insight: For most distressed couples, communication skills training misses the mark.
It doesn’t address the real issue.
It’s kind of like putting a band aid on an infected wound. The band aid won’t cure the underlying infection.
Couple communication problems, though real, are usually a symptom of something deeper: a breakdown in the bond, or emotional connectedness, between two spouses.
Because of this breakdown, the sense of safety and security in the relationship has gone out the window. Neither partner trusts the other to be genuinely concerned about his or her welfare.
If neither partner trusts the other, then what good are communication skills? No wonder many distressed couples who are taught communication skills go home and keep right on fighting.
Until the broken bond is repaired and trust is restored, communication skills training probably won’t help.
Tip: If your relationship is in distress and you’re having communication problems, start by focusing on repairing your broken bond, not on learning new communication skills.
Ask: “What’s happened to our closeness? What’s happened to our trust? What can we do?”
3. Insight: When it comes to repairing broken bonds, many relationship experts agree that the most effective therapy approach is Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy (EFT).
This is a revolutionary approach that helps distressed couples get back their closeness and trust. When they do, distress is alleviated and communication automatically improves.
More than 25 years of research shows that with EFT, 75% of distressed couples recover completely and another 15% improve significantly. In other words, 90% get better! At two-years follow up, almost all have retained their gains.
I’m the first therapist in our seven-state Rocky Mountain Region to become fully trained and certified in EFT. I’ve had more experience using this approach to help distressed couples than any other therapist in our part of the country.
Tip: If your marriage is in distress and you’re experiencing communication problems, find an EFT therapist.
With EFT, you’ll repair your broken bond and regain your closeness and trust. Then, you’ll communicate a lot better and fight a lot less.
Are you and your partner having frequent communication problems? If so, call me at 303-545-9828 for a complimentary phone consultation.
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Copyright © bouldermarriagecounseling.com | 2012
Master couples therapist and psychologist Dr. Jay Lindsay utilizes Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy (EFT), one of the most researched and effective approaches to marital therapy. Based in Louisville, Colorado, Dr. Lindsay is a marriage counselor who is sought after by couples from all across the country. He can be reached at 303-545-9828.