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4 min read

Five Exercises for Couples to Better Communication

a couple in the therapy room

In any of our relationships, communication can be a challenge, but this is especially true of romantic relationships. When we are both emotionally and physically close to someone, what can start as misunderstanding can be blown out of proportion. In this article, we'll share why it's important to understand communication styles, as well as some simple relationship communication exercises for couples to help build your skills.

Why are good communication skills important in a romantic relationship?

When it comes to longevity and happiness in a relationship, communication is key. Studies show that effective communicators have a far better chance of maintaining healthy and happy relationships. But why is this?

Good communication skills involve not only speaking, but active listening. Many of us want to be heard, but fewer of us are willing to truly listen. Not only that, but it can be very easy to misinterpret motivations and intentions, or to make your own unclear. And many of us have different communication styles, which can complicate the process.

What are the Communication Styles?

There are four basic communication styles that guide how we interact with others. By understanding our own style and the style of our partner, we can learn to better communicate with one another.

Passive Communicator

A passive communicator has difficulty expressing their own feelings, as well as their wants or needs. They defer to others to avoid conflict, and can often suffer from built-up anger or resentment. A passive communicator may have difficulty making eye contact.

Aggressive Communicator

An aggressive communicator expresses their wants, needs, and desires at the expense of others, including their partner. They may be defensive and hostile, and alienate or hurt the other partner.

Passive Aggressive Communicator

A passive aggressive communicator may appear passive, but they may lash out in anger in subtle ways. They may use avoidance (the silent treatment), sarcasm, or indirect communication to get their point across.

Assertive Communicator

Many couple communication exercises include assertive communication exercises. This is because assertive communication is the ideal. An assertive communicator is a direct and honest communicator that respects the needs of the other partner while asserting their own thoughts and feelings.

Building Communication Skills Through Effective Communication Exercises for Couples

Communication exercises teach us how to listen to each other, truly process and understand the feelings and needs of our partner, as well as share our own in an effective way. The following are some common healthy communication exercises for couples to help build a healthier relationship.

Practice "I" Statements to Communicate Effectively

This communication exercise is an assertive communication exercise. During conflict, couples have a tendency to throw healthy communication out the window and rely on blame, criticizing, and shaming. With this communication exercise, you use an "I" statement to take responsibility for your own feelings, reducing the blame on your partner. For example, instead of saying, "You always leave dirty clothes all over the floor!" you can try, "I get stressed out when I see clothes everywhere." This is a time-honored classic of assertive communication exercises for couples.

Active Listening Exercises for Healthy Communication

Building active listening skills can be essential to maintaining healthy relationships. Active listening can help us when we feel that we just "have" to be right during a conversation. One way to do this is through a communication exercise known as uninterrupted active listening. When your partner speaks, do not interrupt. Let them share everything they need to say without comment. Oftentimes, we have a tendency to share advice or explanations, but this can come off as thinking you know more than your partner does.

Set a clock for anywhere from 2 to 5 minutes, and let your partner express anything the want to share with you. Practice active listening during this time, you should nod, use facial expressions and other supportive gestures but do not speak. When your partner is done sharing, then reset the clock and take your own turn. When your turns are complete, use open ended questions and reflective listening to check for understanding.

Validation Exercises for Couples

We all want to feel validated. In this communication exercise, you will practice making one another feel secure by offering validation while allowing yourselves to be vulnerable. Validation is not simply agreeing with what your spouse or partner says. Validation is an effective communication exercise in which you acknowledge the other's thoughts, feelings, or emotions and ensuring that they know that you hear and understand them.

Positive Language Exercises

Using negative language with your partner can lead to one partner feeling attacked or accused. Learning how to reframe negative statements into positive statements can go a long way toward maintaining a healthy relationship. For example, when you're on a date, rather than say, "I hate this new restaurant," you could say, "I really loved that restaurant we went to last month. I'd like to go there again next time."

Body Language Exercises for Couples

Relationship communication exercises aren't only about what you say and how you say it...it can also be about what your body language says. For example, extended eye contact exercises for couples are a powerful way to share feelings without a world. Sit across from your partner in a quiet, restful space, and maintain eye contact for five minutes. At the end of five minutes, talk about how it felt to maintain eye contact with your partner.

Have Check-Ins With Your Partner to Build a Healthy Relationship

Practice communication exercises that you've been working on by having weekly check ins with each other. Letting one another talk and taking time to hear them can be a fun way to find out what they're thinking about but also to hone your communication skills and listening skills.

When It's Time to Do Communication Exercises with a Therapist

Sometimes your relationship has reached the point where marriage communication exercises aren't going to cut it on their own. You may need to work with a licensed professional counselor to work on changing negative communication habits and increasing your nonverbal and verbal communication skills. Poor communication can be improved with the help of a mental health therapist, and with their support, relationship communication exercises can be far more effective.

Effective Communication Exercises for Couples in Austin, TX

Sometimes communication skills are beyond the repair of the most effective communication exercises for couples. But therapy can offer the support and tools to help build a healthy relationship.

At Williamsburg Therapy Group, our team of doctoral-level psychotherapists offers evidence-based techniques to improve active listening skills and verbal communication.

Give us a call today, and our patient coordinator will help you find the right Austin couples therapist to target your communication style, guide you through the most effective communication exercises, build communication skills, and, in general, help you learn to communicate effectively with your partner. 

Book a Therapy Session in Austin Today

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