5 couples therapy techniques to try in your relationship

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Are you looking for new techniques to strengthen your relationship? If you’re interested in Couples Integrative Behavioral Therapy (IBCT) but can’t seem to fit it into your busy schedule, many couples turn to teletherapy as an easier way to make time for their relationship. Scheduling a teletherapy session with an experienced therapist is convenient and can help you resolve relationship issues, but why wait? Here are five tips to get you started today.

1. Express appreciation

Understanding what makes your partner feel most valued is a step in the right direction. Over time, we may stop expressing appreciation in our relationships because what was once novel has become routine. Perhaps resentment has built up over the years, or we may assume our significant other already knows how we feel about it. But when we notice and appreciate the little things, people often do whatever it takes to be even more thoughtful. This does not require grand gestures, although it is possible. Often simply acknowledging what other people do for us is enough to warm a relationship. In fact, I often encourage couples to end the day with at least three things they’re grateful for in their partner, or even the day itself, as of that day. When you know that you need to express your appreciation for things at the end of the night, you’ll be more mindful of things you appreciate during the day.

2. Practice reflective listening

Practice may not always make perfect, but it certainly helps. It’s common for people to mistakenly believe that if they withhold approval or affection, their partner will change the way they want them to. While this may make your partner change, it probably won’t be the way you want it to be. Practicing reflective listening is one of the best techniques to improve communication in your relationship. So what does it mean?

This is something an experienced couples therapist can walk you through during your session, but essentially it means you listen to what your partner is saying and then put it back to them in your own words. You can try a simple reflection, basically repeating what was said, maybe paraphrasing a bit, or you can try a complex reflection, where you can infer a feeling or experience based on what was said. This accomplishes two things. It confirms what they said because they know they were really heard, and it also clears up any confusion. Instead of waiting our turn, we actively listen to what is being said and try to understand what they are telling us.

3. Plan important conversations

On a related subject, there are some conversations that are difficult to have, no matter how skilled we are at communication. So when it comes to sensitive issues, it can be helpful to take the time to discuss them. I call these “relationship business meetings”. For example, your partner may want to have a baby, but you are unsure if it is a good time for you to start a family or if you want children at all. This is a situation that can quickly escalate into an argument, especially if the topic comes up at a moment when you’re already feeling stressed about work or money or a number of other things.

Instead, consider scheduling a one-hour weekly meetup to discuss the idea or other hot relationship topics. Choose a time when you both have the mental and emotional range to be fully present, and remember that you don’t necessarily have to come up with an answer at that time. The intent is to just get the conversation going when you’re both in a calm and receptive frame of mind — maybe even at brunch. You can always schedule a follow-up for later, giving you time to look at things more closely.

By scheduling a weekly time to meet up, you consolidate arguments into a single episode instead of letting them spill over into the relationship throughout the week. It also gives each partner time and space to reflect on their experiences and opinions and engage in conversation with more thoughtfulness and respect for their needs and those of their partner.

If you’re still having trouble sorting through an issue, bring it to your teletherapy session. Your couples therapist will be able to offer you a fresh perspective and some useful insights into your current dynamic.

4. Disconnect from your phones

Most of us spend way too much time on our phones these days. We may not even fully realize how many hours we spend looking at a screen because there are so many useful things on our devices that we rely on every day – from work emails to apps Everything is available for grocery delivery. But that can mean that we are less present to the people we love most. Make sure you set the time when the phones and tablets are put away and it’s just the two of you. It can be tempting to distract ourselves when we’re under stress or things don’t seem to be going well, but if we want to improve our relationships, we need to show up first.

5. Remember to have fun

Your relationship may not be quite as spontaneous as it used to be, and that’s okay, but it’s still important to remember to make time for fun. Playfulness is an important part of a relationship. What is your favorite thing to do as a couple? Do you share hobbies or interests? It’s all too easy to get caught up in the daily routine of paying bills and cleaning the house, so make sure you enjoy your life together. After all, what’s the point of working so hard if you don’t slow down every now and then?

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Remember, fun doesn’t have to be the big spontaneous trips you’ve taken before, it could be an old song you used to love, on the way to taking your kids to soccer practice, or dinner from one place to order the one you used feel free to go. When it comes to happiness and fun, it’s not the big events that bring the most joy, but often the smaller, more meaningful events.

Benefits of teletherapy

Interested in learning more about teletherapy and why so many people prefer it for couples therapy? First off, teletherapy uses special software that is completely secure and compliant with HIPAA standards. Teletherapy is also popular because it eliminates the need for road commutes or even for a couple to stay in the same place, especially after an argument where one member of the couple feels less emotionally secure.

This can help ensure your sessions are more consistent and you never have to worry about getting to your appointment on time. Plus, you have more choices when it comes to finding a therapist that’s right for you because you’re not limited to local options. Not to mention that you might just feel more comfortable in sweatpants on your living room couch than in an office environment.

To find a therapist, please visit Psychology Today’s Therapy Directory.

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