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Guidelines For Couples Communication

I wrote this to facilitate a couple’s session.  I then realized that all couples, whether in therapy or not, could benefit from this information.  Even good communicators can benefit from a reminder about good communication, conflict resolution and above all how to be a loving and respectful partner.  I hope the following guidelines are helpful.

  1. One topic at a time.
  2. The person who brings up the topic is the speaker; the other person is the listener.
  3. Speaker:
    A. Makes “I” statements only.
    B. This means no judgments or accusations
    C. The speaker speaks from his/her perspective, which is by definition  subjective.
    D. Speaker keeps statements short enough to be heard by listener.

  4. Listener:Guidelines
    A. Listens with an open mind and an open heart.
    B. Listener tries to repeat back what he/she is hearing so that speaker feels heard.
    C. Listener DOES NOT rehearse a rebuttal.
    D. Listener gives speaker the benefit of the doubt.
    E. Listener does not change the subject.

  5. Any conversation no matter how sensitive the topic is for gaining sufficient information to reach understanding, agreement, or compromise.
  6. There should never be a winner or a loser or a right or a wrong.
  7. Fighting to win is losing.
  8. Each individual is unique.  People often do not feel the same, think the same or always want the same things. No person is more entitled than the other.
  9. An intimate relationship is difficult because we are interdependent, which makes us vulnerable.  There is no other relationship in which one is so vulnerable.  Vulnerability can lead to defensive postures that harden over time and result in cycles of conflict. 
  10. Learning to understand and manage your own vulnerabilities is invaluable.
  11. Each partner is responsible to him/herself.  You never get to blame your partner for your own behavior.  You are in charge of yourself.  Trying to change your partner is as futile as it is disrespectful.
  12. Reality is almost always subjective.  Trying to get agreement is usually frustrating and pointless.  Validating and giving validation of your own and your partner’s thoughts, feelings and positions is useful in that it leads to mutual respect and often solutions.
  13. With very few exceptions, there is no right or wrong. I know I already said that but it’s really, really important.



Check out the new video on How to Have a Fair fight.
Also see Emotional Maturity by clicking on the title. I hope you'll find it useful.


Sally LeBoy, M.S. MFT (14768)
>> Don't Justify It!
>> Guidlines for couples Communication
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>> Appreciation
>> The Holidays (Again)
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>> Sex!!!
>> Do I Do too Much?
>> Managing Emotions
>> How to Have a Fight
>> Emotional Maturity