TOOLS TO IMPROVE A RELATIONSHIP
Methods That Work
My work as a psychologist in the Jackson, Mississippi area often involves working with couples who have relationship issues. Some call for marriage counseling, and others call because they are struggling with the relationship without making the commitment to marriage. Many times, the issues are the same.
Often, as I start a session, I ask how the time has been since the last visit. We may review what was helpful from the last session, and how they have used this in their relationship.
Today, when this was done, a couple I have been working with now for two months had a good report. The husband said that there was growth in the relationship, and he saw that both were making positive changes. His wife agreed. I had seen some movement in the right direction, but was happy to see they were now learning and practicing the skills I was helping them with in therapy. Naturally, I asked what had happened to get them to this point. His response was that they "had taken the spoon out of the pot".
Now, you, the reader may wonder what he meant by taking the spoon out of the pot. During the first session, as each talked about the issues at hand, and I observed how they were interacting with each other, I made the comment that they seemed to "stir the pot" by not listening or respecting the feelings and wishes of the other. They often responded to a comment their mate made by the "well you did this or that", not stopping to listen to the original message before either going on the defense or offense with another statement.
On the next visit, the report was that this couple had adopted the message of "stirring the pot", and they would often use this as a cue to the other if they saw this behavior. Rather than continue an argument that was going nowhere, or say hurtful things to each other, they used this as a means to take time to reflect on what was going on and practice new methods of interacting with each other.
When a couple comes into therapy, one of the most common problems identified is lack of communication. Couples talk, but they don't listen. In therapy, I teach them new ways of hearing and responding to their mate. We work with this as a team during the sessions. I ask them to practice this at home.
This couple today was no exception. They wanted to save their marriage, yet didn't have the tools to interact with each other in a healthy manner. By learning effective communication and respect for the feelings of their mate, they are showing growth that is building a strong relationship. In their words, they have now "taken the spoon out of the pot". They can have healthy talks where they stop, listen, and hear the message their mate is attempting to convey. They are learning to not make mountains out of mole hills, and they are building a trust that they had not felt for each other. They can laugh and enjoy what they are building.
If you are in a relationship where you and your mate need to learn how to "take the spoon out of the pot", then I encourage you to reach out to someone trained to help you learn new skills to help your relationship grow.
Dr. Nona Owens
580 Springridge Rd.
Clinton, Mississippi, 39056