The question ALL couples ask me
Over the 25 years that I have been working with couples, the one thing I get asked more than anything else :
How can we communicate better?
At some point in relationship (or often at lots of points) communication breaks down between us. We find we’re unable to be heard, unable to express ourselves or both and we seem to feel triggered and hurt by what our partner says. This can leave us feeling frustrated or even angry, sad, isolated or hopeless.
In fact I would go so far as to say that communication is often the first place that relationships struggle. I have rarely worked with a couple who haven’t had some sort of issue with it at some point and without the right support this issue can spiral and even cause the breakdown of the relationship.
When we have a way of communicating that works for us, so many other aspects of the relationship can be supported to flourish. But if basic communication is not flowing, it can have a devastating impact on the whole of the relationship and undermine the confidence and trust of both partners.
The way we relate to each other is a vessel for looking deeper at ourselves, and for healing through our connection. It’s the foundation of healthy, soulful relationship. When communication falls off the map, it takes a big chunk of our connection with it. So it’s a pretty key piece of the puzzle! And yet who among us was ever taught this when they were growing up?
Most of us never actually learned the ingredients of good communication. It’s something we’re all expected to pick up as we go, and then when it falls apart we’re left blaming ourselves (or each other) and wondering what went wrong.
But like any other skill, good, soulful communication can be learned. It takes practice, but if you and your beloved are willing to try, it is transformative.
There are different ways a communication struggles can play out :
Either communication just stops; one or both partners withdraw and shut down. We find ourselves floating in a distant cohabitation, passing each other by like ships in the night
Or we try to stay in connection, but there’s an underground volcano simmering away and bubbling out sideways. Everything our partner says to us has a bit of bite in it. We both feel anxious, resentful and stuck.
Or one person withdraws, struggling to say anything at all and the other becomes much more vocal. We find ourselves out of balance; one of us in freeze mode and one in attack (even if it’s well intentioned!) The gulf between us widens as we dig in further to our opposing positions.
Sometimes both of us are fiery and loud, talking over each other without listening. We have so much to say but no space to be heard so we fight even harder for it. Everything the other person says becomes a trigger, and everything we say gets misunderstood : we exhaust ourselves going round and round in circles.
These are just some of the ways I’ve seen, but your own communication issues will have their own particular flavour. It can feel hopeless, but there are ways through this, it doesn’t have to be the end for your relationship.
The underlying roots to all of these dynamics is that we ‘translate’ what our partner is saying; what they say and what we hear is not always the same. We start running their words through our own internal filters and end up hearing something completely different to what they intended.
Or we get into a right vs. wrong thing where we argue about the “facts”, we hold on for dear life to our position as “right” and theirs as “wrong”, forgetting the humans underneath.
Or because we feel hurt by something they did or didn’t do and because it touches our wound of not feeling lovable, or feeling like we aren’t good enough, we hear what they are saying through this lens. We take it as evidence of what we already believe underneath it all. Our partner becomes someone else for us in those moments; often the caregiver who wasn’t able to meet our needs when we were young.
If we aren’t hearing their words as they intend them, if we’re desperate to prove them wrong, or if we’re seeing them as the parent who hurt us – we might as well be speaking two different languages.
So what do we do when we reach this stage?
Therapy? It’s brilliant, but it doesn’t necessarily give us tools to take home. Lots of couples go to therapy and have great success during the sessions. They making all kinds of breakthroughs with their therapist in the room, but the difficulties begin again as soon as they get in the car or get home because they haven’t been given the day to day hands on solutions they need to step out of their patterns.
What Mark and I are passionate about is ensuring that the couples who work with us become self-sufficient. We want to give you tools so that you’re not reliant on us being there to be able to connect. We distill what we know into simple, practical exercises that don’t take hours and hours to work.
My skill and my genius is to cut to the chase when a couple is struggling and get to the core of the matter. Through my years of doing this with couples, I’ve developed a method that is really accessible; you can take it, apply it and feel the results immediately.
It’s my life’s work, the work of Soul Intimacy, and this is what we teach you at Communication Alchemy.
Therapy is there to help heal and hold us at the level of our humanity, of our personality structure. Traditional therapeutic methods however, don’t always recognise that we are spiritual beings and so much more than the wounds of our humanity. If we only work at the level of personality, we’re just reshuffling our deck of cards, hoping to be dealt a slightly better hand. Sometimes it may change things for a while, but often we find ourselves needing to reshuffle more and more often, with less and less change occurring.
I believe we need to remember that our wounds are carried in our lineage, and that they are not the bigger part of us. It’s in this remembrance that we can make those sometimes seismic shifts back into connection. If we don’t have that context, the work can feel endless; like we’ll be in therapy for the rest of our lives, and never get to true liberation. I want us to get there, I want lasting change for all of us who feel stuck in draining communication dynamics.
At Communication Alchemy, we do this work of Soul gardening together. We tend to the seeds of our lives by infusing the soil they’re growing in with spirit, with the tender recognition of our souls and their work here in this life. We know that seeds cannot grow without the right environment, and we offer you all the tools you need to cultivate that environment with your beloved, so that you can both grow and thrive together.