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How To Have Intimate Conversations with Your Partner: One Rule, Three Skills

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We all want to connect with our partner at an intimate level. But many of us struggle listening and expressing our feelings. Every couple needs help navigating the complexities of intimate conversations.

Intimate conversations with your partner are essential to a thriving relationship. If you can learn how to do it you can improve your relationship.

The Gottman "One Rule"

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John Gottman writes about the one rule that’s necessary to follow here. The rule is understanding must precede advice.

We have to set aside the natural impulse to fix or problem-solve. When we jump into advice mode, it results in our partners not feeling heard.

Our relationships are not problems to solve but mysteries to explore. Pushing advice shuts down the conversation. Pursuing understanding opens the conversation into deeper layers of intimacy.

When you pursue understanding it sets the context for you and your partner to feel safe and secure. Within the context of safety, we open up and explore topics and issues that can enhance our intimacy.

Understanding is not synonymous with agreement. With understanding, a couple can experience intimacy even when there are disagreements.

Three Skills

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Learning to communicate with empathy and understanding is a skill that can be developed. It's like a muscle -- the more exercise these skills get the stronger they become.

Skill 1: Putting Your Feelings Into Words

Intimate conversations are about translating our feelings into words. This can be a big challenge for a lot of people.

Couples therapy can be helpful with this. Marriage counseling helps you develop images and metaphors to express your emotions.

Emotions can be wild and unclear. Describing emotions with words can be an important way you pursue clarity. When your partner is clear about how you feel, they can better connect with you.

Skill 2: Asking Open-Ended Questions

Most of us ask close-ended questions. These are questions that are easy to answer with one or two words. An example would be, “How was your day?” It’s too easy to answer this question with “good” or “bad”.

Close-ended questions shut down intimate conversation. Intimate conversations need open-ended questions. These are questions that open up rather than close things down. An example would be “How did that make you feel” or “What was that like for you?” When you ask these questions, you are inviting your partner to open up and explore with you.

Couples therapy can help you practice the skill of asking open-ended questions. A marriage counselor can model this for you and provide helpful tips.

Skill 3: Expressing Empathy

Irvin Yalom says that, "empathy is the ability to look out someone else’s window". We all have a unique perspective on life. Your partner will likely experience things in a different way than you.

Empathy is desire to understand your partner’s perspective. When you express empathy you offer validation. Your partner needs you to understand their unique needs, thoughts and emotions.

A common empathy response is, “I can see how you felt that way.” Empathy can be a difficult skill to practice. Most people need help with this.

A couples therapist can help you become more empathic. Sometimes you need a third party to help you see your partner’s perspective. If you can grow in empathy, you’ll experience richer intimacy.

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

If you are ready to start strengthening your relationship at Katy Teen & Family Counseling, all you need to do is follow 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 remove the barriers in your life to help you succeed as a young adult

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

At the Katy, Tx location of Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we also provide other counseling and therapeutic services such as teen therapy, young adult counseling, and family counseling.

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

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 dress shirt, tan sports coat, smiling. He is a couples therapist in katy, tx and a marriage counselor in katy, tx 77494. He also provides teen counseling katy, tx and family therapy katy, tx 77494.

Quique Autrey is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and family therapist. He is a seasoned young adult therapist who has helped many overcome their struggles.

He also is a family systems therapist. He views each individual through that lens and provides therapy for the family system which includes: teen therapy, young adult counseling, family counseling, marriage counseling & couples therapy.

Quique has helped those who experience depression, anxiety, panic attacks, 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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