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Relationship

The Secret to a Healthy Relationship Is Not What You Think

The secret to a healthy relationship is not what you think. What do most people say? You guessed it. Communication with a capital “C.” But communication is not the secret to healthy relationships. Click here for audio version. 

Once you know the difference between communication and dialogue you’ll agree. Dialogue is the real secret to a healthy relationship. And it’s not natural.

Dialogue is the real secret to a healthy relationship. And it's not natural. Click To Tweet

Normal communication can easily turn into power/control situations.

If you were a compliant kid growing up, then you may be like me. You’re easily persuaded.

I have no problem buying products online. I’ve listened to webinars and taken more online classes than I can count. Marketers convince us there’s a limited time only, or the price will never be this low again. Persuasion is a powerful communication method.

If you’re naturally strong-willed, you won’t be easily persuaded. Instead, you spend hours of research before purchases. You’re skeptical of marketers and you have no trouble with being assertive.

Because you’re so confident, your conversations can mimic a sales pitch without realizing it. You might even be able to sell and snowball to an Eskimo.

In relationship, one person is great at persuasion while the other is easily influenced. The compliant one buys the “bill of goods” and later, has buyer’s regret. After time, this communication pattern in intimate relationships feel manipulative. Trust is weakened and isolation replaces connection.

Communication patterns feel manipulative when you try to convince the other person. Click To Tweet

Every one of us desire to be heard and understood in our intimate relationships. That’s why we need to know dialogue.

What Relationship Dialogue is not:

Dialogue is not debate.

Some of us know what it’s like to be on a debate team in high school. We’ve all watched political debates. Neither party is open to the other’s viewpoint. Their only purpose is to win the hearers over to their side. One ends up being a winner and the other a loser.

When marital communication is a debate, one spouse loses. Who wants to sleep with a loser? In reality, both lose.

Dialogue is not discussion.

Some of us call arguing “heated discussions.” Both people try to change the other’s mind, or belief, or behavior. Neither one is listening to the other.

Think of the suffix of the word discussion and how it’s similar to concussion. Discussion is to a relationship as a football player is to a head injury.  One person suffers.

What Relationship Dialogue is: 

Dialogue is a form of communication in which two people walk away feeling heard, understood, and validated. It requires skills of listening. Dialogue is two people willing to slow down and hear what the other is saying.

Dialogue is a form of communication in which two people walk away feeling heard, understood, and validated. Click To Tweet

It requires two people willing to bring attitudes of openness, growth and curiosity. They desire to honor the others’ differences.

Dialogue seems to happen naturally early on in a romantic relationship. Both are curious and open with the other. Over time, attitudes change. Dialogue eventually migrates to debate or discussion.

Secrets to a Healthy Relationship 

Whether you’re a master at persuasion or can buy anything online, it’s crucial to learn dialogue. We now realize the secret to a healthy relationship is not communication with a capital “C.”  It’s dialogue which takes a special skill of listening. Dialogue is the superglue that holds us together. Dialogue connects us in our desire to be seen, heard, and understood.

Three Choices in your next step to a Healthy Relationship

  1. Go to my FaceBook page to watch short videos about dialogue.
  2. Answer this question and comment on this post: Are you assertive or easily influenced in your relationship?
  3. Sign up for a free 20 minute consultation to begin learning dialogue skills.

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Improve your marriage

How Long Does It Take To Improve Your Marriage

When it comes to couples counseling, we all want to know how much time, energy, and money it will take for lasting improvements. A common question is: How long does it take to improve your marriage through relationship counseling?

It takes more than 21 days to improve your marriage

The 21-days-to-make-a-habit advice has been a myth all this time with no scientific backing. Through Michael Hyatt’s Best Year Ever program, he quoted that it really takes an average of 66 days depending on the particular habit.

In my work with clients, I tell them it takes 90 days for new neuro-pathways in the brain to form new associations. Different ways of thinking, behaving, and relating takes consistent practice. Just as regular workouts in the gym train our muscles, our intentional thoughts and behaviors train our neuro-connections.

Whether you’re learning a foreign language or ballroom dance steps, it takes about 90 days to learn a new skill. Click To Tweet

Your idea of empathic communication with your spouse may be as challenging as learning a foreign language. If you can’t keep a beat to a radio pop song, you may initially be just as clumsy when you learn dialogue skills with your partner. But you can learn. Your brain is designed to learn new things.

Muscle memory and mental associations in our brains are made to connect.

We are all wired to grow, connect, and continue growing in relationships. Click To Tweet

Beyond the counseling stereo-type to improve your marriage

My work with couples is different than the stereo-type of what you see on movies or TV. You may imagine a couple sitting on the couch together side by side, looking to the counselor to equally hear both partners’ sides. The therapist is neutral, balanced, and unbiased. (sounds a bit un-human to me)

Although a first session may look like that, Imago Therapy is different. Instead, the couple sits across from each other face to face. The therapist sits “outside” their relationship, coaching them with speaker-listener skills. With gentle guidance, encouragement and awareness, they learn how to make the space between them emotionally safe.

How many counseling sessions to improve your marriage?

“How many sessions does it take?” you ask.

The answer varies. For some it’s twelve weekly ninety minute session. For others, it’s weekly for the first month, and twice a month for the next 90 days. Beyond that, ever other month check ups are a great plan. Some may only need six month check-ups similar to regular dental cleanings.

Beyond the neuro-pathway factors other considerations are these:

  • Are you in a crisis or just need a tune up?
  • Do you both have an attitude of I’ll-do-anything-it-takes?
  • How motivated are you as a couple to follow through in-between session?

In order to begin dialogue skills to improve your marriage, keep in mind it takes about 90 days. It will take additional time to master it for continual growth, intimacy, and connection. And don’t forget the periodic booster sessions to keep growing toward each other.

Questions to improve your marriage

On a scale of 1-10 how full is your love tank?

How do you feel in each other’s presence?

Sign up for 10 Ways to Build Trust in communication