Couples counseling can be thought of as an educational process for effective communication between any two person system. This would include spouses, lovers, siblings, parent-child or co-workers.
Effective communication by two people will involve clear messaging that is hearable and specific. It requires that while one person is speaking, the other is listening. Empathetic listening involves listening with the head and the heart. Learning how to listen and validate the other person goes a long way to preventing argument.
My job, as therapist / facilitator is to help each couple learn how to listen empathetically while removing any and all habits that undermine the process.
For example: bringing up the past excessively makes it difficult to address something in the here and now. Using “you statements” and attacking will lead to fights and with-drawal. Also, high volume and abusive language can hinder the process as well. Listeners need to be quiet and put aside reactions in order to adequately hear their partner’s content and and feelings.
With skill and practice, each and every couple can learn to communicate more effectively and experience more fulfillment in their most important relationships.