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5 Communication Tips for Couples

Ms. Vicki

Couples deal with multiple stressors: family, occupation and work stress, completing educational programs, raising children, and financial stress. These dynamics can put a big strain on communication by increasing the likelihood of arguments. This causes an increase in isolation and avoidance, which decreases physical connection and intimacy.

These concerns can become exacerbated for military couples because they cope with multiple deployments, long separations because of schools and trainings, and many transitions due to relocations.

It is very important to keep the lines of communication open, with healthy dialogue. Here are Ms. Vicki's top 5 quick tips. 

  1. Make time each day to talk and spend time together. Keep the conversation light, and don't try to tackle tough subjects like the family budget. During these times you want to communicate by sharing, laughing, and enjoying each other's company. You should schedule a time to talk about tough subjects, giving more time to prepare your thoughts, ideas and concerns. This will help you avoid arguments and resentment.
  2. Don't talk or try to strategize a problem when you are exhausted or in a rush. This will only lead to confusion and disagreement. Many couples want to do well and solve problems, but don't realize they are sabotaging the relationship when they choose the wrong time to communicate.
  3. Use the speaker-listener technique. For example, one person talks while the other person listens with no interruptions. Additionally, the listener paraphrases what the person just said to make sure they get the message. The main point is to acknowledge that you "hear" the person, not necessarily that you agree.
  4. It is very important to avoid anger and escalation in all situations. Taking a time-out is healthy and necessary to avoid any escalation. Simply say, "Time out -- I need a break." Don't be in a rush to continue the conversation; wait until you both cool down.
  5. Professional counseling or therapy is great for couples who are having marital discord, and communication problems. I highly recommend therapy for couples who due to conflict are living separately, sleeping in separate rooms, experiencing a lack of intimacy etc.

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Contributor

Ms. Vicki is a native of Dallas, has been the Dear Abby for the military community since her column began in 2005. A licensed therapist and licensed clinical social worker, Ms. Vicki holds a Master of Science in social work and a Master of Arts in clinical psychology.

Ms. Vicki appears regularly on Military.com and in the Fort Campbell Courier. Her column has also appeared in the Washington (D.C.) Times and in the Heidelberg (Germany) Post Herald. She has been featured on CNN, CBS, ABC and NBC.

Looking for advice about your military life? Email Ms. Vicki here. Find Ms. Vicki on Facebook here.  Find Ms. Vicki on Twitter here.

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