Treat Your Spouse Like a Stranger

I have sometimes instructed partners in a couple to treat each other as though they didn’t know each other. It turns out, this is actually (now) an evidence-based strategy:

the study pointed up the fact that when we know someone, we think they know what’s going on with us (and we with them) when it’s often not the case. So you can improve communication by  a) taking what someone says at face value, not guessing about hidden messages, and b) clarifying communication.

This may not solve a problem you’re talking about, but at least it reduces the chance that you’ll have to overcome a communication problem before you communicate about the problem.


About jamesmatter

Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) in private practice in San Francisco. I work with adults, adolescents, and couples, with focus on substance use and abuse and co-occurring disorders (having both a mental illness and an addiction).
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