There have been a number of important issues that have come up on a regular basis during my years of couples counseling in Omaha, whether that is a married couple, non-traditional couple, or even a work couple (that is, coworkers). Couples talk about these issues in therapy itself and they refer to examples in their lives outside of the office.
It often is spoken of as a need for “better communication” or “bad communication” (which lack of clarity can be a part of) and there are multiple aspects of communication that can need work, but being clear and clarifying are a couple of issues that many couples can work on to help decrease arguing and make what arguing that happens be more effective.
I find myself, a number of times each week in couples counseling sessions, where I hear one of the “arguers” make a powerful and effective move by neutrally (without a sarcastic tone for example) clarifying what he or she just said or clarifying what the other just said. I will point this out when it happens – I will mark it as something important that occurred.
I gently emphasize that clarity helps get to resolution, sometimes eases the conflict, and can even change the direction of the argument. I spend a moderate amount of time in couples counseling sessions just clarifying what was said (“So you’re saying that she doesn’t hear you very well?” or “You are saying you can’t live with this anymore?”).
Being clear about what you say will help you in your life much of the time and will often help in communication with a significant other and even in arguments. You can specifically apply this principle to change the course of a conflict by asking (all of the examples need to be said without sarcasm), for example, “What do you mean?” or “How much did I hurt you by that?” or “I’m sorry; are you saying I am not doing enough around here?” You could also try, “What could I do to make this better? What are you saying you want from me?”
And you could stop yourself in an argument and say, “I am not sure I am being clear—what are you hearing me say?” If the person doesn’t hear or understand what was said very well, perhaps you are not communicating it well and need to be clearer. You don’t need to be in a couples counseling setting to use these tools to better your relationship.
Let me be clear: if you will work at being clearer, you will often make progress in solving arguments. There may be other issues and roadblocks that have to be overcome to resolve the conflict, but you will be advancing the discussion when you are clear and you help the other person to be clearer as well.
Keep growing your relationship…