When not officiating non-denominational weddings here in Los Angeles, among other things I teach at UCLA Extension. Last month I finished up my eleven-week course, The Dynamics Of Interpersonal Communication.
All of my communication work – including my pre-marital communication coaching – is based in the belief that we all do what we do and say what we say for a reason. No one “just is.”
Flowing from that is my conviction that in every relationship, over time, we fall into dance steps, patterns for dealing with conflict as well as for expressing feelings, needs and desires.
The question, though, becomes – are those dance steps working for you or are they sabotaging you and your partner?
Earlier today I got an email from Pamela, a former student. She wrote:
Recently my boyfriend and I have really been working on our communication. For perhaps the very first time I noticed that when I’m upset and need to ask him something, I get very frustrated and then just explode into accusatory statements instead of explaining what I want or what I’m feeling.
Usually that sets off our “normal” fight of “YOU never. . .well, YOU never. . .” but this time I stopped and told him, “Look, I have a lot of trouble with this so can you please hug me and work with me instead of reacting to me?”
And he actually did!
It was an interesting moment for both of us. He said to me, “Well, I never knew that. I thought you were just cruelly accusing me, doing your usual annoying girlfriend thing.”
We talked about ways I can bring up issues without waiting too long and then exploding. And now he’s being less reactive to my tone and more understanding when I repeat something three times in a row – he gets that it’s because I’m having difficulty expressing my self and am caught in a “broken record mode”.
Now when I do that (which I did this morning), he just pretends to be a broken record too and we make it a joke between us.
I’m excited for Pamela and her boyfriend because of the good that has come from their mutual kindness and determination to break a habit that chipped away at the quality of their life together.
Pamela’s boyfriend thought her lashing out was just a “girlfriend thing.” It wasn’t.
However, it wasn’t until she came clean and actually asked him for what she needed that he was able to really understand what was going on.
This was a breakthrough moment in their relationship. This is THE value of pre-marital counseling – which I call pre-marital communication coaching. It let’s you have the kind of breakthrough moment that Pamela and her boyfriend had.
And, hey, never underestimate the power of a good hug!
Pamela reminds us all that life really can be far simpler than we make it out to be!
If you want more tips on how to communicate in smart, healthy ways with your partner –
during wedding planning and beyond –
check out my book,
Treat you and your partner to a communications coaching session with me.