When most couples have struggled long enough in their marriages to decide to seek help in marriage and family therapy, their most frequent complaint in their initial intake interview is problems with communication.

Sometimes, communication is the actual problem. For example, some men are the strong silent type, which has some appeal to some women; however, more women would like their husbands to be very open with them, describing their feelings, vulnerabilities, and intimate emotions about the marriage.

Other times, communication is how other problems are manifest in the marriage. For example, if neither the husband or the wife are listening attentively to the other, then neither feel heard or respected. Both want to be known and understood, and feel hurt and disrespected when their words seem unimportant to their spouses.

A lot of marriages have communication that is out of bounds, like verbal abuse when talking too loudly or contemptuously. Or interrupting when the listener should be patient to hear what the speaker is saying.

If couples state initially their problem is communication, later during their counseling, the communication turns out to be a problem only in certain situations. For example, if he comes home drunk or she spends too much at the casino, the yelling is poor communication, but the bigger problem is the subject of the yelling.

Communication is a skill we were supposed to learn as children, just like we learned to walk and talk, or use manners at the table or in school. Many children don’t learn by what they were taught, but by what they have caught, like hearing their parents screaming and wanting their own way.

Usually during dating, couples enjoy talking to and listening to each other. As the relationship grows, problems naturally occur. To communicate about those problems effectively requires both partners to speak like they would like to be spoken to, and listen like they would like to be heard.

God is a great listener: always available with unlimited time and complete, unconditional love. Husbands and wives lack some of God’s capacity, but can mature as speakers and listeners, like Jesus did with the woman at the well.

For hurting couples, Healthy Counseling Center offers workshops, intensives, and counseling. Please call for more information about getting the help you want; call Jennifer at (509) 466-6632.

Junk Drawer

Junk Drawer

Most houses have a junk drawer. I have one in my kitchen. Also one in my office. And if I am truly honest, I also have one in my laundry room. It’s where the random items are stored, out of sight. When life gets busy, when the item doesn’t have a permanent location or it just seems convenient at the time, I hide items in the drawer to be dealt with another day. Eventually “another day” comes along, and it’s usually due to a ridiculous little frustration: the drawer won’t open anymore because there is a roll of duct tape that got turned sideways, or I obsessively search for an address that I was too busy to put in my phone that is on a Target receipt and I am positive I put it in this drawer. The frustration hits a boiling point and the drawer gets dumped out to be sorted. The garbage is tossed, the useful tools find a home and those bizarre random items that probably have a purpose, but you can only guess what that purpose might be, get placed in the “I have no idea” pile. This last pile usually takes consulting with the myriad of individuals that also contribute to my junk drawer. Then I organize that drawer and take some solace that the quick search that turned into a 3 hour project has created some sense of order in my otherwise overly energized life.

Going to see a counselor is similar to cleaning out a junk drawer. There comes a time when the emotional junk just doesn’t fit in the drawer anymore and there is a burning deep down that indicates it is time to figure out how to create some sense of the chaos that is raging. A counselor can help you create a safe place to dump out all the disappointments, emotions, transitions and confusion to make sense of it all. Together, the old coping mechanisms that no longer work can be thrown out in favor of new, healthy behaviors that actually move you forward toward life goals. Past regrets and disappointments are processed in a way that empowers you to impact the world in a positive way. The process might make a mess for a time, just like dumping out a real drawer. And it might take some time. But it also might create some peace and order in an otherwise overly energized life.

We know from decades of experience that some skills are best explained in group settings in a fun and educational environment, while personal topics still remain private.

Total Costs: $35/assessment $50/week (8 week date nights $435/couple)

Blended Couple:
This workshop is best for couples that have blended families involved in your marriage.

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