Me or We? Improving Communication in Couples!

Disagreeing couple

An Electronic Mental Health Newsletter from Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D., P.A. & Associates
Volume 15, Number 9

One of the primary reasons couples end their relationships is because of problems in communication. Many people in different stages of conflict believe that not only are they right but that the other person doesn’t understand them. It is easy for people to hear but not easy to listen and truly understand what is being said. Even then, most people lack the skills for conflict resolution. Because we live in a disposable society, it is very easy to throw in the towel and end what might be a wonderful relationship. Often, there is also collateral damage which can include children, jobs, finances, friendships, and one’s mental health.

Resolving disputes among couples can be difficult especially against the backdrop of the pandemic and the political divisiveness of our country. This month’s e-Letter, Me or We: Improving Communication in Couples, provides information on how couples can resolve their conflicts without doing damage to the relationship.

KimmelPsychology has provided a monthly E-Letter for over 16 years, that is educational, informative, and helpful. Topics change every month, but the format remains the same; brief information about the topic as well as suggestions for improvement.

You are invited to email your thoughts to Dr. Kimmel at [email protected].
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Me or We? Improving Communication in Couples!

Happy Couple                                                                              (Photo by Mart Production)

Successful relationships are built upon the foundation of Mutual Trust and Respect. In order to develop these qualities, good communication is essential. The ability to listen and to speak openly without fear of making things worse are necessary for couples to resolve disagreements. This will enable couples to be able to grow together into a functioning and successful relationship.

Every relationship is emotional and has disagreements and/or conflicts because people tend to see things differently. This is not necessarily bad in and of itself; rather, it can be damaging if these disagreements are not resolved in a manner that strengthens the relationship. What makes this more difficult is that our current society is polarized meaning someone is right and someone else is wrong. Successful resolutions or compromises are in the minority.

We all have our set of values that we developed over our lives. We have our own ways of perceiving and understanding events in our world. These values and perceptions have guided us through our lives. However, they are bound to come into some conflict with other people’s perceptions and beliefs. Conflicts or disagreements do happen and need to be resolved or resentment and anger builds.

Conflicts, in and of themselves, are not necessarily bad. How they get resolved can affect whether a relationship dissolves or strengthens. Without successful resolution, conflicts can lead to passive-aggressive behaviors, a weakening of intimacy, feelings of anxiety or depression, and perhaps, eventual separation.

The key to good communication is the ability to be able to “give and take” in an argument. Needing to be right or getting one’s way is destructive. Rather, the focus needs to be on how you both can “win” in a disagreement. This demonstrates that you value the other person as being important to you. Active listening, that is the skill of listening to what the person is really trying to say and not just their words, is very effective in resolving disputes. But this is difficult in situations of high emotional intensity. Learning and practicing active listening can go far in lowering the temperature of emotional conflicts.

These steps can be very helpful in improving your relationship if you are having disagreements:
              1. Calm yourself and do not enter into a discussion when you are very angry
              2. Consider whether you are being a “me” or a “we”.
              3. Ask yourself whether you want to resolve the disagreement or just win your point
              4. Show respect to your partner even if you are angry, that is, no name calling or put downs
              5. Make good eye contact and begin with an “I statement” such as “I feel “
              6. Ask your partner to express their thoughts also using an “I statement”
              7. Do not interrupt and consider what is being said to you
              8. Reflect what is being said to ensure that you are getting the overall message
              9. Discuss possible solutions to the conflict and what is best for the relationship
              10. Decide upon a resolution and tell your partner something positive about them

We offer the following information on: Me or We? Improving Communication in Couples!

Me or We? Improving Communication in Couples!

We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak…Epictetus


  • In healthy relationships, each person strives to make the other person better
  • It is normal in every relationship to have disagreements and conflicts
  • Good communication between people creates trust and respect for each person and strengthens the relationship
  • In an argument, a person may win but, the relationship loses
  • Not just hear but actively listen to what the other person is really saying
  • Conflicts can be approached as ways of solving problems rather than opportunities to rage and verbally attack the other person who just may be a husband, wife, parent, child, best friend, etc.
  • Consider that in a conflict, the other person may not actually be trying to hurt you but may have done so unintentionally or misperceived something
  • In order to have a good relationship, it is imperative to be able to speak openly and freely without fear of retribution to resolve the disagreement
  • Signs of poor communication include:
  • Giving the silent treatment
  • Making fun of the other person
  • Being sarcastic
  • Walking away and not responding
  • Giving in and brushing the conflict under the rug
  • Yelling and talking over the other person
  • Bringing up past conflicts
  • Using personal attacks
  • Signs of good communication include:
  • Resolving conflicts where both parties perceive they have won
  • Listening first rather than trying to get your point across and not interrupting
  • Remembering that you care/love the other person and they are not your enemy
  • Being honest and sincere and not making faces or other disrespectful behaviors
  • Always remembering that you are on the same team but just disagree


  • Find a good time and place to talk calmly about the disagreement
  • Speak calmly, make eye contact, and communicate the other person’s perspective to acknowledge understanding of their point of view
  • Manage your own emotions and using “I feel” or “I believe” statements
  • Determine what you can agree with and give in as well as get what you want
  • Tell your partner something positive about them and what you appreciate
  • Seek professional help either individually or with your partner if you are having difficulty resolving conflicts


Call us at 954 755-2885 or email us at [email protected]
                                    Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D. P.A. and Associates
                                    5551 N University Drive, Suite 202
                                    Coral Springs FL 33067

Till October…

The information provided in this electronic newsletter is not a substitute for professional treatment. It is the opinions of the writers and is provided solely for educational purposes. For mental health care, seek a qualified professional.

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