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Effective Feedback In Your Marriage: 4 Steps to Improve Communication

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As a marriage counselor and couples therapist and as a human being, I recognize that no relationship is perfect. Often, in couples counseling and marriage therapy, we may address heaving topics like infidelity but often it's helping others recognize the importance of communication and effective feedback during times of conflict and struggle.

Even the best marriage experiences conflict and struggle. The key to a strong marriage is ensuring that you repair the relationship with your partner. Our relationships are in trouble when we let conflict fester or fail to reconnect with our partner.

When your partner hurts or offends you, it's important that you stand up to them -- in love. You have to express how their actions hurt you and what they can do to make things better.

That said, there are ineffective ways to communicate this. Yelling at your partner or attacking their character will likely make matters worse.

There is an effective strategy for bringing up difficult conversations that can help you improve your relationship.

These four steps come from marriage therapist Terry Real and his book, "The New Rules of Marriage." Below are the 4 steps with preparation stage setting the stage for the 4 steps.


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Before you introduce a difficult topic with your spouse, you have to do two things. First, you have to ensure that you are in the best possible emotional place to have a conversation.

If you're triggered or flooded with emotions, this may not be the best time to talk with your partner. Here are a few things you can do to help bring you to a more emotionally stable place:

• Go for a walk/run

• Take a 15 - minute break

• Sit and meditate

• Go through a breathing exercise

• Lift weights

• Write in your journal

The second thing you have to do before talking with your partner is asking their permission. Instead of assuming they will hear you out, invite them into a conversation.

Try to utilize "I" language instead of "You" language so they feel less attacked. Instead of saying, "You really hurt me the other day and now we're going to talk about it!" try "I'm still feeling hurt by the other night. Would it be ok if we talked about it?"

Step 1: What You Saw/Heard

In a few sentences, describe what you saw/heard your partner do (or not do) that bothered you. At this phase, keep it as objective or neutral as possible. Stick to the facts. Imagine that you're describing what a video camera would have recorded.

Step 2: The Story in Your Head

This is the time to express your interpretation of the event. The important point here is that you are sharing your perspective.

You are describing to your partner the story that you created in your head and not what your partner intended or felt in the situation.

By taking this second step, you are owning the fact that part of the conflict is a result of the meaning that you created about the situation in question.

Step 3: What You Felt

This is the chance to explore how your partner hurt you at an emotional level. Stick to "I" language instead of "You" language.

The key here is to be clear with your partner about their negative impact. The more concrete and specific you can be the better.

There are likely deeper layers of emotion there. Instead of saying you felt angry when your husband was late, describe how it provoked fear and anxiety.

Step 4: What You Need

In this final step, you are letting your partner know that you would like to move on from the conflict. In order for you to do that you'll need something from your partner.

This is a chance for you to help your partner repair the temporary break in the relationship connection. When you are not sure what you need, you can ask for reassurance that the behavior won't happen again.

Additional Support

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Sometimes a couple needs additional support to help them navigate their relationship conflict. If you're stuck in a state of disharmony with your partner and can't repair on our own, it may be time for couple's therapy or marriage counseling.

A marriage counselor can help you walk through these four steps and support you as you learn to communicate with your partner. An investment in couple's counseling is an investment in the strength of your relationship.

Begin Marriage Counseling or Couples Therapy at Katy Teen & Family Counseling: Katy, Tx & Houston

At Katy Teen & Family Counseling, our marriage therapists and couples counselors can help. Marriage counseling or couples therapy can help sort through the haze of conflict and help provide clarity and direction in your marriage or relationship.

Our Katy, Tx location of Katy Teen and Family Counseling, is conveniently located off of I-10 and 99. We are about 4-5 blocks behind the Academy Sports in Katy, Tx.

If you are ready to start your journey with one of our couples therapist or marriage counselors, Katy Teen & Family Counseling can help. It's as simple as following these three simple steps:

  1. Contact Katy Teen & Family Counseling

  2. Speak with one of our marriage counselors or couples therapists

  3. Let us help you strengthen your communication foundation in your relationship!

Other Therapy and Counseling Services Offered at Katy Teen & Family Counseling: Serving Katy, Tx & Houston

Below are a few of the other counseling services we provide for teens, families, and young adults in Katy, Tx and Houston:

Board Certified Neurofeedback Therapy

Peak performance (optimal academic brain performance)

Peak performance (optimal athletic brain performance)

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR Therapy)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

About the Author

Man in blue pin stripe dress shirt and tan overcoat smiling. He is a couples counselor katy, tx and a couples therapist katy, tx. He also provides couples counseling katy, tx and couples therapy katy, tx.

Quique Autrey is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and an experienced couples therapist and marriage counselor.

He views each individual through the lens of the family system. Through this lens he provides: teen therapy, young adult counseling, family counseling, marriage counseling & couples therapy.

Quique has helped those who experience depression, anxiety, panic attacks, social anxiety, ADHD/ADD, and is trained in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

Quique also has a passion for helping teens, young adults, and adults who may be on the Autism Spectrum. He has a talent for connecting with and helping people with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

If you're ready to start your healing journey in marriage counseling or couples therapy, you can call us at 346-202-4662 or email us at

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