A Letter of Advice: Communication for Couples

 

conflict-couple

Dear Jeffery and Samantha Love,

I am pleased to hear about you recent marriage. This is one of the most exciting times of your lives. My daughter and I recently attended a seminar that focused on interpersonal communication last week and I would love to share what we learned along with a few of my own experiences. When you guys understand each other’s way of communication and how to deal with each other’s emotions your marriage will be even more successful.

Interpersonal Communication

First we know that our everyday life is full of interpersonal relationship. When you two got married you formed the most important and significant interpersonal relationship you will ever have. There will not be another like it even if you where to get remarried. In relationships there are ways or practices that can effectively help you maintain your relationship and keep it strong. Your self-concept is one. When you develop and get older and wiser your self-concept will change too, this is not a necessarily a bad thing. Having emotional intelligence has it’s benefits too when your in a relationship, understanding the others feelings and emotions. Having your individual disclosure in your relationship can be different from one couple to the next and can have good and bad effects. Interpersonal conflict is the most challenging traits in relationships today and knowing how to manage these conflicts effectively is important and takes patience.

Your relationship is like a recipe, there are many ingredients that make the masterpiece but you know from reading the directions you cannot just throw the ingredients in randomly. My husband and I schedule date nights through out the month so that we can re-connect with each other and talk about things that we have thought about throughout our busy week. We talk about our concerns that we have with each other and how we can improve to make the other happy and more comfortable. See Relationships take time and you have to say the right things and ask the right questions at the right time. Like the recipe, if you do not follow the directions carefully you will get a disaster in your relationship.

Barrier that Effect Interpersonal Interactions

Interpersonal interactions are happening between you two everyday and it can very easy and helpful but there are some barriers that can come in between and make your interactions challenging. “Along with the many beneficial functions of interpersonal communication come a number of challenges. These interpersonal challenges occur frequently, and their presence increases the chance that the communicators will be unable to share meaning with one another” (Bevan, 2014). The first three challenges are misperceptions, long distance and intergenerational relationships.

Misperceptions, Long Distance and Intergenerational Relationships

Interpersonal communication is very important and part of every relationship but there are barriers that can make it very ineffective. Noise is can cause for misperception because the receiver may hear something different from what the sender said. For example, when Mrs. Love is out with friends and Mr. Love is calling her but she does not answer phone, Mr. Love may feel ignored. The noise is what causes the misperception because Mrs. Love would have answered the phone if she could have heard. Next would be having a long distance relationship, where things like “ unforeseen time, cost, and convenience issues, Limited opportunities to provide comfort, reassurance, and support, Fewer interactions, in terms of both quantity and quality, and difficulties assisting with individual and relationship crises”(Erin Sahlstein, 2006). I know you two will be living in the same house so this is the least of your worries. My daughter went out of town for 3 weeks and everything was fine until her husband said that she was not contacting him on a regular basis and he didn’t like it. She tried to call or send an email everyday so that it would not put an emotional strain on him. Research shows that being apart for a while can actually help the relationship and can give each partner a feel of appreciation when the other makes it their priority to connect with them each day (Sahlstein’s, 2004). The third barrier is intergenerational relationships, which is when different members of a generation communicate, like baby boomers and GenXers (Mary Lee Hummert, 2012). Communicating with people older or younger then yourselves can be challenging especially when it comes to the style of communication, age related stereotypes, and different economic practices during each generation. There has been an increase of communication between age groups because of social pages such as twitter, Facebook and Integra which helps build the bridge of communication. I know this may not be your situation but you have to remember that both of you have different interest and trying to accommodate for each other may be a challenge but at least you can learn something new or enjoy something that you never thought you would. All three of these barriers can be damaging to your interpersonal interaction but it will make your relationship stronger because you will learn to work through these obstacles.

Self- Concept

Your self-concept is how you see yourself and how you identify yourself. This will not only affect you but also the relationships you have and how you communicate in those relationships. “Researchers believe that who you think you are is a complex mix of how you see yourself; how others see you; what parents, teachers, and peers have told you about yourself that you have recognized and internalized; and what your society or culture tells you that you are or that you should be” (Bevan, 2014). “Though self-concept is an internal process, it is learned, maintained, and can change through interpersonal communication. Now, let’s look more at what contributes to our self-concept” (Bevan, 2014). Before you guys met each other you had developed your own self-concept of yourselves by what other said about you or how they reacted towards you. I feel that you should not let others define whom you are and you can choose to change your self-concept through your interpersonal communication. When you have a positive self-concept your relationship will be more successful but if you self-concept is bad then this could also hurt your relationship and stop growth. If you each are more satisfied with yourself then attracted to each other you can contribute more positive energy to the relationship and promote positive growth.

Emotional Intelligence and Effective Interpersonal Relationships

Being able to have emotional intelligence is important feature in a relationship. It is important to understand your feelings but also the person you are in a relationship with. According to Michelle Pence and Andrea Vickery (2012), “being able to listen in an active-empathic way is positively related to having emotional intelligence, which involves the ability to monitor, regulate, and discriminate among your own and your partner’s feelings in order to guide your thoughts and actions” (Salovey & Mayer, 1990)(Bevan, 2014). In an article by Emotional Intelligence and Its Role in Personal relationships, they describe emotional intelligence as a person who can understand the other, can perceive their emotions and feelings (Maria Ilyas, 2011). You guys need to remember who’s team you’re on, each other’s, so you have to keep what you say and do in mind and make sure it is not affecting the other in a negative way.

Listening

“Though most people think they are good listeners, studies show that the majority of people listen poorly and inefficiently” (Lee & Hatesohl, 1993) (Bevan, 2014). Since you are in a romantic relationship being a good listener when you guys are discussing issues or trying to correct a behavior is vital to the survival of your relationship. In an article called, Practicing Active Listening Can Improve Your Relationship it talks about how “some couples are busy preparing a defense if the other partner is listing complaints or has been very upset” (Irene Hansen Savarese, 2013). You guys need to make sure you are listening to each other when voicing concerns, I cannot stress this enough. I use to be ready to rebuttal when my husband had something negative to say about something I was doing. All can I say is that our nights did not end well, so make sure you hear fully what each other is saying.

Self-Disclosure

“The intentional act of sharing private and personal aspects of you with other people” (Wheeless, 1978) (Bevan, 2014). In the beginning when you first meet someone you normally just don’t lay it all on the table but you give enough to the point the other can share without feeling too forward or not sharing enough. When it comes to self-disclosure in a relationship I feel that you should have all walls knocked down. You guys are married so you need to be disclosing information about everything new that pops up because I can assume you guys know a lot about each other already. “Self-disclosure is important for building rapport with other people, but it also helps you learn more about yourself” ( Bevan, 2014). When you two met and started dating you guys where build rapport with each other, releasing just enough information about you to gain some trust with each other. This should continue throughout your relationship and it will make it stronger and the trust level higher. My daughter did not let her husband know that she had dated his best friend in college and when they were out his friend got drunk and started talking about college life and his wife. She was embarrassed and so was her husband. They fought all night and he stopped trusting her for a while because he thought she told him everything before they got married. Hopefully you two have no skeletons in the closet. In one study from Self-Disclosure in Intimate Relationships: Associations with Individual and relationship Characteristics Over, “self–disclosure is not viewed as a static characteristic of relationships but rather as a “life–long/relationship–long process, a process that changes as individuals and relationships change” (Dindia, 1997, p. 411). You two will see as the relationship progresses that your self-disclosure will too; hopefully you both will share everything without hesitation.

Managing Interpersonal Conflicts

When there is a relationship there will be conflict that is not avoidable. You can manage your conflict by talking about it but the goal is to find a resolution so that you will not have to revisit the issue anymore. “Instead of always avoiding or aggressively entering into conflict, try to manage or resolve your differences as competently and constructively as possible” (Bevan, 2014). This is great advice I wish I had something like this to help me out years ago when my husband and I would just let issued simmer for months at a time and then the smallest thing would happen and we would both blow up and bring up all of our issues. In an article I found called Managing Conflict Successfully, they give some good examples for dealing with your conflict, I like the “I win and you win example. It states, “As a dominant style for conflict management, this synergistic approach attaches major importance to both the goals of the parties involved and to the well-being of the relationships. This is a “win-win” outcome and assumes that you and others will enthusiastically cooperate since the positive total effect is greater than what could be achieved by individual efforts.” (Herbert G. Lingren, Extension Family Life Specialist University of Nebraska-Lincoln Cooperative Extension). I just want to add that to agree to disagree is not a bad but really does not solve the conflict but keeps it at bay. If you guys can avoid this and agree on an outcome your relationship will be better and more enjoyable in the end.

In closing Mr. and Mrs. Love when you take the time to first understand yourself as an individual, actively listen to each other, keep an open door policy and resolve issues that come you two will be well on your way to a fabulous future as a married couple. Like earlier when I mentioned the recipe analogy, you cannot just throw things together and hope to make a masterpiece. You have understood and follow a certain order and add things at the right time. Remember there will be hard spots but with the advice that I am sharing with you I am confident that you guys will be able to pull though.

Sincerely,

A Voice of Reason

(Written by Tiffany as another personality)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

Bevan,J.L, & Sole, k( 2014). Making connections: Understanding interpersonal Communications (2nd ed.)

Herbert G. Lingren, Extension Family Life Specialist

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Cooperative Extension

http://strongermarriage.org/htm/married/managing-conflict-successfully/

SUSAN SPRECHER & SUSAN S. HENDRICK   Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, Vol. 23, No. 6, 2004, pp. 857-877

http://ir.library.illinoisstate.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1000&context=fpsa&sei-redir=1&referer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bing.com%2Fsearch%3Fq%3Dself-Disclosure%2Bin%2Brelationships%26FORM%3DIE8SRC#search=%22self-Disclosure%20relationships%22

Irene Hansen Savarese (2013) Practicing Active Listening Can Improve Your Relationship

http://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/practicing-active-listening-can-improve-your-relationship-0515134

 

 

 

 

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