By Juan Santos, M.S., CRC, LPCA
Have you ever said something to your partner that you immediately regretted? Maybe a few too many words slipped out. Words that are now are making your partner feel hurt and emotionally distant.
Couples experiencing tension often do one common thing. They engage in loud and disrespectful conversations. These talks tend to really lead nowhere positive. The conversations start with tension and end with even more tension.
Are you struggling with having “healthy conversations” in your relationship?
What ends up happening is that a cycle or a habit is being formed. More than likely you and your partner created this habit. The habit of speaking negatively to each other. Like many habits, the more we do it, the better it becomes. Think about the simple habit of giving your partner a kiss in the morning before heading off to work. It’s a habit that was built, trained, and mastered. Those engaging in this sort of habit, do it instinctual. You may even say that you are good at it!
The only difference is that a negative habit has been created, a habit of unhealthy conversations. As a relationship counselor and couple’s expert, I love showing alternatives. Solutions to create healthy patterns, behaviors, and habits that can empower and nurture relationships.
A while back, I spent some time working with a couple. A couple that knew each other’s buttons much too well. Very much like a teenager knows just what to say to their parent to get what they want, this couple had created a bad habit. Each equally responsible. They had created a conversation cycle that would result in saying mean things and losing focus on the actual purpose of the conversation and the needed solution.
For some time, we wrestled with code words. These are simple words that can have a profound impact on the success of the relationship. Code words are used to stop tension-related conversations from taking place. They are used to eliminate those hurtful words that too often want to slip out. Code words are a platform that allows couples to learn how to have healthy conversations. Talks that can lead to solutions versus tension.
The couple used a code word that had meaning behind it. The ability of the code word to have meaning allows us to understand its strength and value. At the end of the day it’s not just a “word,” it has a profound significance behind it. The couple would use the code word “X” when the conversation took the wrong turn. They would use the code word “X” when feeling on edge and overly eager to regress to the bad habit of saying something hurtful.
The more that the couple used the code word, the less frequent the unhealthy conversations took place. Each person gained self-control because of a simple code word. Each person began to understand just how destructive the relationship was becoming.
Like positive habits and changes in life, the code word created a system that allowed for a healthier relationship to take place. If you are struggling with having “healthy conversations” in your relationship, consider implementing a code word. Try it out. See what happens.