Many couples who come to see me for marriage counseling report that they are having communication problems. These communication problems frequently involve power struggles around money, sex, parenting, household responsibilities, in-laws, trust and leisure time.

It is not easy to resolve these kinds of issues, as they are usually emotionally charged. However, it is virtually impossible to work them out when there is a lot of tension among couples and they are having difficulty conversing with one another in a patient and polite manner.

And believe me, many husbands and wives who come for counseling are quite angry with one another and the tension can quite substantial. I have had people try to throw furniture at one another in my office and I have had some spouses storm out of the session and leave their partner to find their own way of transporting himself or herself home.

Therapists working with couples help their patients to address the underlying causes of their anger toward one another. In many cases, this anger is related to conflicts that existed in the patients’ original family system. People tend to carry old baggage and old tapes into their marriages. The negative experiences we saw in the families that raised us tend to resurface in our marriages.

In addition to resolving these old and counterproductive feelings, therapists often teach people techniques for resolving current conflicts in a productive and civil manner.

For several years, I have taught many husbands and wives a simple way of communicating with one another which seems to help them to start to rebuild their damaged relationship. This technique is uncomplicated and it works with couples of all ages and with couples from different ethnic backgrounds.

Essentially, I explain to the couple that they need to work on being polite and cordial with one another. They need to listen carefully when their partner speaks and they must stop placing rigid demands on their marital partner.

Try Inviting Your Mate

I suggest that they start to communicate using an “invitation model.” When you get an invitation to a party, you have three options. You can RSVP and say that you would love to go. You can reply and say that you can’t go. Or, you can think about it for a while.

There are no arguments, no power struggles and little tension when couples communicate via this invitation approach. In fact, I encourage many couples to use this style around lots of issues. It may feel a little awkward at first, but it really does help husbands and wives to develop a useful and effective way of communicating with each other.

In addition, when husbands and wives begin to politely invite each other, it signals that they respect each others needs, desires, viewpoints and opinions. As I mentioned earlier, couples get into conflict when they rigidly demand things of their marital partner.

Inviting, on the other hand, also sets the stage for an open and polite discussion of many of the issue that couples argue about.

Members of the marital dyad can also re-invite or modify their invitation to see if they can find a way to get their husband or wife to feel more comfortable with their request.

If you need to bring up a sensitive matter with your mate, try politely inviting him or her in the same way that you would ask a friend or relative to come to a party. You will probably be very pleased with the results that you get when you communicate in this kind and respectful style.

Author's Bio: 

Jay P. Granat, Ph.D. is a Psychotherapist and Licensed Marriage and Family Counselor in River Edge, NJ. He is the founder of www.stayinthezone.com and www.drjaygranat.com