Whether conducted in the United States or far off lands, many surveys find the number one reason for divorce is poor communication. Beyond having different communication styles, issues often arise when both partners are not comfortable talking about their feelings.
The good news is, talking about feelings is not the only, or even necessarily the best, way for couples to maintain a happy and healthy relationship.
Here are some ideas to improve communication in your own relationship:
Small Talk Offers Big Gains
While you may assume that discussing the impending nor’ easter or last night’s season finale is far from connecting emotionally, the truth is, small talk can positively impact communication even more than discussion about feelings. Many couples find it easier to reconnect over the mundane events of life rather than during a serious discussion, most likely because they each feel safer in the mundane space.
The key is to really engage during these small talk sessions. Be interested and curious. Ask questions. By doing this you let your partner know they matter and you care. In the end, life is woven together by strings of insignificant incidents.
A recent study published in Psychological Science found that partners feel closer to each other when discussing shared experiences. For instance, many spouses can come together when discussing their children, particularly if they are remembering happy moments.
A second study published in Psychological Science uncovered something very interesting! It turns out that words are not even necessary for shared experiences to improve relationships. Silent communication from enjoying an experience can also heal. Doing something together like riding bikes, going to a movie on date night, or even shopping for new lawn chairs can help you reconnect.
Balance Asking and Offering
Good communication is a dance where the man and woman take turns leading. This means sometimes YOU need to offer up the information and share something about yourself. It could be something as simple as what happened to you in line yesterday at Starbucks.
Other times, let your partner share what they want. Be sure to ask questions and actually LISTEN to the answers. If you don’t understand something they’ve said, ask for clarification. This is a wonderful way to show them you care and are fully engaged.
These communication ideas are deceptively simple, but don’t let their simplicity fool you. If you use these techniques you will find your skills improve and your relationship deepens. And, if you feel you need more help in the communication department, seeking guidance from a therapist is a great idea.
If you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.
Anxiety is like fire: It can keep us safe and warm, or completely devastate our property and our lives. It’s good to be a little anxious at times. When walking down a deserted street at night, anxiety keeps us on alert and ready to fight or take flight should a dangerous situation arise.
But for many people, especially adolescents, anxiety can become the norm instead of the exception. Just walking into a classroom or being with a group of people they don’t know can become crisis situations. And, the more they experience these scary events, the more anxiety becomes a chronic condition.
Here are 4 things parents and teachers should know about adolescent anxiety.
1. Anxiety Refers to Physical Symptoms Associated with Negative Thoughts
Negative thoughts such as, “No one will like me,” or “Everyone is going to think I’m stupid” come first. These thoughts are then followed by physical symptoms such as a stomach ache, diarrhea, or shaking and shallow breathing. Young people need to learn how to not only shift their thinking (“This will feel awkward but I’ll be okay”) but also cope with the physical stress (take slow, deep breaths). This will help kids know without a doubt they can handle uncomfortable feelings instead of avoiding them.
2. Dealing with Anxiety Requires Problem Solving Skills
Life is full of uncertainties and gray areas. Parents of very young children help them navigate through these situations. But adolescents must be equipped with problem solving skills so they may tolerate uncertainty instead of avoiding it, as avoidance only makes things worse and gives anxiety more power.
3. The Adolescent Mind is More Sensitive to Environmental Stress
The adolescent mind is a jumble of chemical changes that can make any situation seem like time spent in a fun house. These hormonal changes make adolescence a particularly challenging time to cope with anxiety.
4. Anxiety is a Vicious Cycle
When young people are anxious, it’s easy for the adults around them to become anxious as a response. But, the more anxious parents and teachers are, the more controlling and inflexible they may become.
As adults, it’s important we manage our own anxiety around our kids and students so we can manage the overall situation much more effectively.
If you or a loved one is struggling with anxiety, therapy can help. If you’re interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.