The four T’s to effective communication among couples

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A few years ago I started a counseling center that was a part of a local church.

The clinic was based on the theme of enabling individuals to achieve a level of Optimal Living. Of particular emphasis was to enable couples to achieve a high level of communication as they contemplated their marriage and couples who were having problems in their marriage.

Each couple would evaluate the other as to the level of realization. They would score the partner on a scale of one (1) to ten (10).

A score of 5, 6, 7, was mediocre. A good score was 8, 9, and 10. Of course a score of 1, 2, 3, 4, was not good. Work was necessary OR trouble was ahead and counseling was essential.

The first “T” is TIME.

This refers to time spent together. Quality time, not just caring for the kids or sleeping together. It refers to time in which the priority is each other. If one scores high and the other scores low, the person with the low score is always for more or a better-quality time involvement. A relationship cannot develop or grow without time together. It is an important priority.

The second “T” is TALK.

By this I mean the sharing of ideas and opinions. It is both talking, not one talking and the other listening. Non-verbal communication is valid, but certainly is not a substitute for verbalizing. As smart as you are, you cannot read the mind of another. The expressing of emotions and openness promotes opportunity for insight and greater compatibility. Very seldom will any relationship survive silence.

The third “T” is TOUCH. 

How often we’ve heard that a baby will die if it isn’t touched. So will a relationship. Holding hands, hugging and caressing, are expressions of warmth and affection. This kind of touching is not a prelude to sex but is an expression of caring. Remember, too much cannot be said about this “T.” The absence of touching is often a prelude to other problems and eventual separation. While touching is not a substitution for saying, I LOVE YOU,” it can convey a romantic mood.

The fourth “T” is TEASE.

PLAYFULNESS SHOULD BE A PART OF EVERY RELATIONSHIP. Churches used to say “A couple that prays together stays together.” However, I say “The couple that plays together has a greater chance of staying together.”

There is a difference between a tease that is playful and one that is hurtful or embarrassing. Most of the time beneficial teasing is done in private. We are living in serious times and often problems outside the relationship can intrude. Stress is the result and it drastically affects the relationship. Playfulness/teasing is an effective way of diluting the intensity of stress.


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Doc Abersold is a 87 year old man who has his Ph.D. in two emphases: Behavioral Medicine and Humanistic Psychology. He has been on 130 cruises - many as destination lecturer and has visited 84 countries.

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