A Common Refrain
The most common refrain of couples seeking counseling is: We need help with our communication. While this certainly makes sense; more often than not poor communication is a symptom of a deeper issue: a lack of emotional safety within the coupleship. Without emotional safety, we cannot truly be known by another, and our deepest, most basic need is to be known, to be understood. We are always asking in a million different ways: Do you see me? Do you hear me? Do I matter?
Emotional safety creates the space to experience intimacy. This is a vulnerable and sacred space and may be the first time one or both partners have fully shared their innermost thoughts and feelings, hopes, and worries without fear of judgment or rejection. From this place of safety and intimacy, the communication problems that brought you into counseling are much easier to resolve.
Dr. John Gottman, a renowned psychologist and relationship expert, has developed several exercises and strategies to help couples build emotional safety and improve communication that are practiced both within a couples session and on your own. His book The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work provides an overview of the behaviors and skills that guide couples on a path to a deeper connection. Learning how to raise a concern or voice a need without blaming or criticizing your partner is not only possible, it is essential because criticism and intimacy cannot co-exist.
Open and honest communication within an emotionally safe relationship not only resolves conflicts and strengthens the connection but also deepens the sense of trust and intimacy between partners. It creates a space where individuals can express themselves authentically, leading to a more profound connection that meets our deepest human need: to be known.
Gottman Method 1 & 2
EFCT (Emotionally Focused Couples Therapist)