My wife and I were happy for twenty years. Then we met.

–Unknown author

Dialogues that make a difference – how couples manage to talk about themselves and with each other.

Better than viagra or seeing the divorce lawyer: profound dialogues.

When I work in my seminars or coaching sessions, where mostly the main topic is a professional one, I usually end up counseling personal
problems.

Be it that a couple is always in fight mode which leads to the husband having to work overtime at the office instead of going home in the
evening.

Or after the children were born TLC only goes out to the offspring. Thus sex becomes an extremely rare delicatessen and the couple’s life
resembles more and more that of an apartment-sharing community. And
mommy and daddy dedicate their passion to ecological or academic questions – instead of feeding the couple’s relationship with all this energy.

An absolute classic is also the successful manager 40plus with a second car, second apartment and secret second wife.

When I ask these people, if they have an explanation for this development, I almost get the same answers every time (we’ve drifted apart, not enough things in common, a stressful job). For those who regret “just sharing an apartment“ and who still feel they have somewhat of a connection, love or interest left in each other, I recommend “profound dialogues“.

To make sure everyone really understands how this type of dialogue works, here are some FAQs I answered.

When do profound dialogues make sense?

Profound dialogues are completely different from „normal“ discussions. You need time and you have to follow a strict structure. These dialogues can make sense in the following situations:

  • When you realize that you keep getting into entangled fruitless power struggles.
    You already know all your partner‘s arguments and you even know beforehand how you’re going to react and what you’re going to reply.
  • If you have different views on a subject, but you need to make a decision on it together.
    (vacation destination, finances, raising the kids etc.)
  • If you want to intensify your relationship or give it a deeper meaning.
    When all you communicate about is organizing your daily routine things and you have no clue what else is occupying the other person’s mind anymore.
  • When you feel more like having taken on a role rather than being a human being.
    Roles, such as provider, general dog’s body, scapegoat, servant etc.
  • When you’re afraid to address topics with conflict potential.
    Conflicts are normal in relationships. But if you end up in an embittered atmosphere when you fight over something, then discussions are usually avoided because one partner believes he will already end up with the short end of the stick.
  • If you are missing ease, desire and fun in your relationship.
    Once chores and duties get the upper hand, then life will slowly become bleak and boring. Living in an apartment-sharing community in order to raise kids and pay off the mortgage can be surprisingly stable over a long period of time – as long as one of  the partners doesn’t discover that he has been functioning too long and suddenly wakes up to finally feel alive again outside the marriage.
  • When you’ve been suffering from sexual weariness for a long time.
    profound dialogues, couple missing sex,I don’t believe that the reason is our oversexed world or that it’s the media’s fault or that emancipated women are putting too much pressure on us men …In fact, I view reasons for non-organic impotency or the female weariness as the actual problem.
    But I consider it to be a creative – subconscious – solution for a conflict.
    Instead, not-being-able to perform turns into not-wanting-to-perform. Thus an unheralded strike. And a strike is the weapon for those who feel (but are not necessarily) more helpless.That’s why Viagra and co. are only means for “him“ to function again.Just like a headache doesn’t indicate you having a lack of aspirin, even though a pill will often help mitigate the situation. On a more concrete level: impotency is not a lack of Viagra, even if the pill helps. With profound dialogues you can find the real reason for the strike. But you have to give it some time.
  • When your life as a couple is drastically changing.
    Going from one phase to the next is often a critical time. The first child, illnesses, a new job, children moving out, getting older, reaching retirement age. If you don’t want to go on living the way you are, then it will help you to talk to each other about what you’re experiencing.

How can you carry out these profound dialogues?

In this article I especially address couples. But this method isn’t reduced to dialogues between men and women. I also recommend profound dialogues for the following constellations:

  • Adults with their own parents or in-laws.
    In these relationships topics such as drawing the line, meddling, letting go among others that are quickly blown up to a question of principle („in my generation“, „in former times xy was valid, “We only mean well” etc.) can cause serious problems. If in general everyone else’s opinion needs to be fended off, then mutual
    understanding why the other person thinks or does things the way they do, is not an issue.
  • Parents with adolescents.
    When puberty kicks in it’s the time when values, norms and behavior differ, which lead to clashes between parents and their offspring. Threatening and imposing sanctions don’t do it anymore or are often even inappropriate. What you are left with is the relationship – and communicating together.Since during puberty questions of finding one’s identity and detachment topics resonate, the emotions of all those involved are strong and highly ambiguous. Profound dialogues make it
    possible to gain mutual understanding and accordingly respect, if this in shown on both behalves.
  • Managers with their employees
    This calls for a manager who doesn’t need to hide behind his superior level of hierarchy. And it requires an employee who is open to put his concept of the enemy (idiot, slave-driver, or technocrat) aside for a while to realize his boss is also just a human being with feelings and sensitivities.
  • Members of a team.
    Profound dialogues can also be understood as mediation dialogues – without the mediator. Or as an arbitration without the arbitrator.The function of the third party and the pacification or objectification that arises due to his or her presence is taken over by the dialogue’s strict structure and the discipline of those involved, because they keep to that specific structure.


How is the dialogue conducted?

The basic rules are simple but very effective. I therefore recommend that you keep strictly to them. Since you feel you “need” this form of dialogue it’s a sign, that what the dialogue rules bring about is something we’re not able to bear in a “normal” discussion.

  • At least one hour‘s time once a week on a regular basis.
    couple problems, talk, profound dialogueIf you’re on vacation you can do it more often. What counts is the regular basis.
    Having the dialogues too often is of no advantage to anyone. It’s the times in between the dialogues where what has been said continues to have an effect.
  • Sit across from each other.
    Not outside and not while talking a walk in nature. All that can be distractive and will interfere with the intimate space you want to create.
  • A talks, B listens.
    A’s talking time is 10 minutes and B only listens. After 10 minutes B gets the talking time, so B talks and A only listens. In one hour each person has had three turns talking and listening.Talking means to talk about yourself. Ideally giving the answer to the self-asked question: “What is preoccupying my mind a lot lately.”
    A talks about how he or she perceives him- or herself, the other person, the relationship and his or her own life.A is not obligated to talk the whole time. The silence and feeling what A experiences in the silence itself (inquietude, malaise, pressure, calmness, disorientation)can be expressed by A.B just listens. B does not think about what he or she could reply on what has been said. B does not think about what is preoccupying his or her mind at the time. B is with the dialogue partner – and with him- or herself. If possible, B does not evaluate or judge. B should have the attitude of someone who is doing research on the views and customs of foreign people and who really wants to get to know them („How interesting – I wasn’t aware of that!”)
  • No questions, no comments.
    Both are not allowed nor is audible exhaling, rolling the eyes or disapproval by shaking the head.
    That in itself is actually the beneficial effect of the dialogue structure that people always give me as a feedback.Everyone has the right to talk without being interrupted, criticized or verbally attacked. And everyone has a chance to listen without being pressured into immediately having an opinion about what is said.
  • You talk about what YOU want to talk about.
    Profound dialogues are no confessions and don’t have a revelation character.
    Everyone can be as open as he or she wants to be. Everyone is free in the choice of topic. When A has talked about topic x, B does not have to give any answers to that when it’s his or her turn. But he or she can, if they feel like it.
  • No commenting in retrospect of the session.
    It’s best, if the two parties go their separate ways for a while afterwards, so what each person has experienced can sink in and one can write something down as well. The dialogue is a reflection of the relationship. Open, unfinished, full of chances and possibilities – an ongoing process. Always with a goal but never with an end.

How can you deal with resistance?

My clients often ask me:

  • What can I do, if I want to conduct a profound dialogue but my partner isn’t willing to do so?
    It’s helpful to analyze the resistance. Rationalizations don’t help („I’m not a talker, I’m a (wo)man of action“, “I don’t see the sense in this psychobabble.“).More importantly you need to feel and talk about the fear that lies behind the resistance. Ironically the best way of doing that would be to conduct a profound dialogue.Sometimes the refusal is a sign of the person not wanting to invest in the relationship anymore, particularly when no alternative is offered by them. That again can be something you may want to address.
  • We just can’t seem to find the time for these dialogues.
    That’s an excuse. Or better yet a statement that everything else is more important. (If you want something, you‘ll find a way. If you don’t want something, you’ll find a reason.)Surely you would find the time to go to the hospital, if you broke your leg or you had an ulcer…
  • We can’t keep to the 10 minute time intervals.
    That indicates how hard you find it to respect boundaries. Try using a timer.
  • I can’t just listen, so I tend to interrupt my dialogue partner.
    What this shows you is how hard it is for you to accept other peoples’ opinions or points of view. It also shows that you have little inner space for discrepancies.In these dialogues you can learn that your view of the world is just one of a billion other views and that you aren’t (or don’t have to be) right. If you really can’t do it any other way: cover your mouth – to totally concentrate on the listening part.
  • I can’t speak openly when my partner is looking right at me.
    These dialogues can create new closeness among a couple even though the structure may appear rather distant. Sometimes when our partner serves as an object of projection for the emotions we hold off, then seeing the other person – and his or her reactions – can be debilitating to us. Perhaps sitting back-to-back can be a helpful solution.

This communication method was developed by Michael Lukas Moeller and his wife Célia Maria Fatia.

article 32 tantalization you to itself also with wrong feelings of guilt? And how do you feel about your communication?
What’s your opinion on profound dialogues?

HP: If you like this article, it’d be great, if you passed it on via Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or by e-mail.
… or write a comment.
… or subscribe to new articles by email or RSS.

Photos: © binski + wickelbär – photocase.com, marin conic – fotolia.de,

Comments are disabled for this post