One of the big things we work on in relationship therapy in Houston is showing intentionality when you talk to each other. Intentionality is a key ingredient for success in a marriage or committed relationship. In my Houston couples counseling center, we define intentionality as deciding what you want in life and then behaving in such a way to make it happen. Intentionality extends beyond intimate relationships and is a huge part of being a responsible, successful adult.

Intentionality is something that we all have to make a conscious effort to work on. We tend to develop habits with our loved ones over time that can derail our attempts at communication unintentionally. You know how your spouse never seems to listen to you or they accuse you of “making a face” or “having a tone” even when you don’t intend to? Those are things that we do unconsciously much of the time, but if we know that we do them, it’s possible to correct the problem by actively working on them.

Why would you want to go to all the effort? Because those seemingly small, unintentional things can have big consequences. Your spouse may begin to feel less and less comfortable talking to you about things because they don’t want to have to deal with your reaction. Or they may simply stop caring about talking to you because you seem like you don’t care about them. Either problem can lead to couples needing some serious marriage help.

Declare Your Intentions in Relationship Therapy in Houston

When we work on this exercise together, I have couples talk about the “intentions” that they need to work on. Their lists will always be different, not just because everyone has unique tics, but also because one of them will always be the “sender” and one will be the “receiver.” Basically, that just means that one person (the sender) is choosing the topic and talking about an issue important to them and the other person (the receiver) is actively listening.

In order for the process to work, both people have to “show up,” which means displaying good will toward and high regard for the other person. How do you do that?

As the sender, you need:

Soft voice
Eye contact
Open posture
Feeling words
Be accountable for your behavior
Neutral, friendly face and tone
Upright posture (i.e. sit up so you can express your full aliveness)
Short sends (i.e. be clear by using simple words and shorter sends)
Contain your emotions
Refrain from being critical or blaming

As the receiver, you need:

Mirror accurately, word for word
Use pause button
Open, upright posture
Neutral, friendly face and tone
Soft voice
Eye contact
Containing, sitting on your world, not interrupting, turning down your inner volume
Stay present and be open and curious to what your partner is saying
Be respectful and BREATHE

Get Marriage Help in Relationship Therapy in Houston

By displaying the above intentionality and working hard to be responsible and not to be reactive during the conversation, you can go a long way towards repairing your relationship and feeling safer and more connected. This exercise can be attempted at home on your own, but sticking with it and truly creating that safe space isn’t always easy without a neutral person. If you need more help, try relationship therapy in Houston.