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10+ Effective Communication Exercises For Couples

Communication exercises teach us how to truly listen to each other, which is an essential component of healthy communication. Active listening skills don't always come naturally but must be learned. Communication exercises for couples can allow us to improve communication skills, practice how to really hear the other partner, identify their own feelings, and understand where the other partner is coming from.

So many relationships fail due to a lack of communication skills. When we practice communication exercises, we set ourselves up for success in building a happy, lasting, and healthy relationship.

How to Practice Couple Communication Exercises

To communicate effectively, it can help to understand the basics. Some of these communication exercises may seem elemental, but building from a foundation is the way to ensure that the communication "house" will be strong. In addition, many of us may think we understand these concepts, but we don't always put them into practice.

Building Communication Skills Through Effective Communication Exercises for Couples

The following are effective communication exercises for couples that are often used by a couples or family therapist but that can be practiced on your own.

Positive Language Exercises

In verbal communication, many people can end up defaulting to negative language, especially in the heat of an argument. However, this type of language is rarely helpful, and shifting your communication style to one with more positive statements can be effective at getting your point across. Most of us shut down and stop listening when the other partner uses blame and negativity.

Practice I Statements

One of the assertive communication exercises, this practice helps you ask for what you want in a way that avoids blame. When making requests in this assertive communication exercise, you use "I" statements to get what you want. Rather than say something like "you never fill the gas tank when it's empty," try "I get frustrated when I have to drive to the gas station on empty. It would make me feel so much better if I knew that I wouldn't have to worry about that because the tank was filled." It puts the onus on your own feelings rather than accusing your partner of wrongdoing.

Active Listening Exercises for Healthy Communication

Active listening can be an inherited skill, but most often it is learned. A communication exercise that can help is to take turns listening to your partner. Let them speak, and then check for understanding. Ask open ended questions (not yes/no, but questions that require a further offering of information).

Discuss Future Goals and Dreams

A romantic relationship can feel stagnant if you don't keep the conversation fresh. A great communication exercise can be to look toward the future together. Share what you want, and find out what your partner wants. Marriage communication exercises that involve sharing your visions can help build feelings of love and excitement together.

Lend Me a Hand Exercises

This can be one of the more fun communication exercises for couples. In this exercise, each couple has a hand secured behind their back to signify the need to work together. They must communicate with each other to complete the task at hand.

Reflective Listening

Reflective listening is a way to build communication skills by letting your partner know that you understand what they're saying to you. In this effective communication exercise, when your partner says something, repeat it back in a way that demonstrates understanding. Not word for word, but showing that you get it. For example:

Daily or Weekly Check-In Exercises

Communication exercises for couples can be something as simple as a daily or weekly check-in. Healthy relationships thrive on keeping the lines of communication open. You and your partner sharing the highlights of your day or week can help keep you emotionally connected.

Extended Eye Contact Exercises

The extended eye contact communication exercise includes looking your partner in the eye for a period of time (up to five minutes) without speaking. When time is up, talk with your partner about your feelings and sensations throughout the exercise.

Sandwich Method Exercises

The sandwich method is one of the communication exercises for couples that is designed to build conflict resolution skills, and is a stress reducing conversation technique. When asking a favor of your partner, sandwich the request between two positive statements.

Expressing Gratitude Exercises

Expressing gratitude is an excellent exercise for an individual, but can also be a good communication exercise for couples. By focusing on and verbalizing what you are grateful for in your partner, you can show the other partner how much you care.

40-20-40 Exercises

One of the most effective communication exercises for couples is often done with a mental health professional in couples therapy to practice active listening. It targets compassionate listening and conflict resolution and can help to reshape toxic communication patterns. 40% of the allotted speaking time goes to each partner, and then 20% is spent discussing the relationship with the guidance of a family therapist or other licensed professional counselor.

Body Language Exercises for Couples

Nonverbal communication and picking up on nonverbal cues can be just as important as listening to your partner speak. Communication issues can arise when you don't maintain eye contact or don't understand the body language of your partner. Communication exercises focusing on body language are usually best under the guidance of a marriage and family therapist who knows what to look for.

Should we be doing communication exercises with a therapist?

Sometimes even the most effective exercises for couples aren't enough to heal rifts caused by poor communication. Good communication skills can't be built in a vacuum, and sometimes negative communication habits (even affecting one partner) can make doing communication exercises ineffective. In these cases, working with a marriage and family therapist can be a way to learn to improve communication skills under the guidance of a professional clinical psychologist.

Relationship communication exercises for couples (also sometimes known as marriage communication exercises) can be an excellent way to improve communication, including written communication skills and nonverbal communication. You don't have to live with poor communication; by trying some of these communication exercises for couples alone or with a licensed couples therapist in Brooklyn, you can work your way to a healthy relationship with your partner.

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