The Harmony in Couples Communication

Updated: Jun 28, 2021

Often, the way we communicate as couples is much like music. Tom Philp, LPC & CEO of Stonebridge Couples, shares more about this very interesting topic.

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Vlog Transcript:

I don't know if you're like me, but if you are, you love music.

I listen to music of all kinds, pop, rock, classical, doesn't matter, I’m just a huge fan of music and so, I’m sitting here today in my home studio and it got me thinking about how often times the way we communicate as couples is much like music; let me give you an example.

Oftentimes couples come to me and say, “We can't communicate, our communication has broken down” and oftentimes, what happens is they're really debating the words they're saying to each other. Who said what, to whom, when and in what order? But what they're reacting to is non-verbal communication.

They’re reacting to the tone of voice, they're reacting to one partner who got a little more defensive when they said something and they don't understand why and it's hitting them in a certain way and so, they raise their tone a little more and so on and so forth.

I think this is a lot about the way we listen to music. When we hear something, we like, oftentimes our ear is drawn to the melody of a song, but what's really important, what we often don't notice is the chord structure, the harmonic structure that undergirds or that lies underneath that melody and really gives shape to that melody. Let me give you an example.

{music plays}

Okay, that's a piano sonata piece by Mozart. You've probably heard it before, it's a very famous one and as we listen to that, our ears really drawn a lot to the melody and what we tend not to notice as much, is the harmonic chord structure underneath that. If you were to take that same melody and place different chords underneath it, it would shape that melody in tremendous ways. It might not even sound like the same song or at least the melody would take on a totally different type of feel to it and I think that's a lot of the way we communicate as couples.

I think we respond to the chord structure, the tone of voice, the nonverbals from our partner, a lot more than we do the actual words they're saying.

So, here's my challenge to you. Next time you're sitting down talking to your partner, think about how your tone of voice, how your body posture, your facial expressions are shaping that conversation, not just the words you're saying, but the actual nonverbal communication you're sending your partner as well, because oftentimes, that's registering over in a part of our brain that we're not putting into words, which is more on the left side, so we get stuck over there, we feel like, “hey, something's amiss here. I hear the words, but what I’m getting from them sounds and feels very different.” Much like if we change the melody to a song by changing the chord pattern underneath it.

I hope you like this vlog. If you have got any comments, any questions, feel free to post something down below. Don't hesitate to go to our website, we've got a free eBook that we're offering, it's called “How to live happily ever after setting goals as a couple.” We'll see you next time. Thanks!

- Tom Philp, LPC & CEO Stonebridge Couples Therapy

(918) 398-7678

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