Good interpersonal skills, with the aid of communication skills and emotional intelligence, are a weapon that can work for or against the future of newly married couples. Learning one’s behavior depends, solely, on the level of interaction between the parties, guided by principles of communication. The latter influences the unfolding of future events basing on perceived trust. In the modern society, family unions, especially marriages, are facing turbulence times in spite of professional counselors. The result is that a high proportion of these unions usually end up in divorce, justifying the rising number of single parent families globally. The cause of such a trend, to an extent, is poor communication skills in relationships and misconceptions that arise thereafter. Therefore, lack of clear knowledge of the guiding principles of interpersonal relationships is the leading cause of instability in many unions.
To begin with, there is not one known way to remedy social conflicts arising from interpersonal relationships. Experts in marital and family matters (guiding and counseling professionals and psychotherapists) have, for a long time, proposed application of an amalgam of various measures to salvage breaking marriages. Among them, are as described below:
The principles and misconceptions in effective interpersonal communications
Interpersonal relationships established basing on openness and honesty are hinged on clarity of interpersonal communications. When one of the couples feels withdrawn from the conversation, then the signal sent is very clear, implying that the quality of communication is deteriorating gradually. Hence, in the near future decision making becomes one person’s responsibility. Therefore, conflicts emerge and its devastative effects become imminent or disastrous (LeBaron, 2008).
Consequently, as put forward by Pierce, in his book Training in Interpersonal Communication Skills with the Partners of Deteriorated Marriages, respect is the, fundamental, core value of any successful interpersonal relationships. The most critical part of it is that couples should first understand and agree with the fact that “respect is mutually earned,” but not commanded. As a result, couples will appreciate themselves, of who they really are, in terms of personality and capabilities. Subsequently, couples should not confuse respect for fear. This is because fear brings inferiority complex to the afflicted party.
The above highlighted points are of equal importance to avoiding of unnecessary interruption to the other party through understanding their mood, attitude, and behavior. Unnecessary interferences take many forms depending on the couples’ likes and dislikes. For example, couples should learn and practice listening and speaking skills. This enables a smooth flow of conversation, which put understanding to the optimum. Therefore, chances of misunderstanding are low, as the union survives through future probable conflicts (Pierce, 2001).
Define emotional intelligence and its role in effective interpersonal relationships
Emotional intelligence has various versions of definitions. This concept as defined by Salovey and Meayer, (1990) could imply the understanding of one’s feelings and applying the same in logical thinking. It also encompasses the ability to understand other people’s emotional link to the same issue in comparison to your view. The key issues highlighted in this definition forms the basis of understanding and improving interpersonal communication and interpersonal relationships. For example, a couple should know their emotions and motivate each other to change for their better lives. Management of individual emotions and that of others improves one’s skills in handling conflicts in relationships especially marital unions, which in most cases have strong attachment. Other scholars like Marques, (2007) further attached the meanings of these emotions in the process of solving interpersonal problem among relationships.
According to John Cox, (2011), emotional intelligence has tremendous results when applied effectively. In support of that, Cox outlined the various roles of emotional intelligence, whose impacts resulted to great benefit to couples who adopted his proposal. For example, one of the crucial roles of emotional intelligence is self-awareness. This enhances one’s ability to recognize their emotions, enabling them to understand its effects on them and other people. As a couple, you will accurately evaluate yourselves in terms of strength and weakness and in turn learn to adopt each other, therefore building self-confidence and trust amongst yourself.
Another role of emotional intelligence is that of self-management. This skill helps couples to adapt to their new environment, enabling them to develop proactive measures to unknown situation. Motivation that comes along with self-management compels one to perform even better. The trustworthy of couples improves as each party can link emotional consistency to behavior, a reason justifying their integrity. Therefore, all events culminate to couples becoming optimistic of spending a lifetime together. Social awareness is another component of emotional intelligence whose contribution is equally important as those discussed above. Social awareness enhances empathy, which is, understanding and developing concern to other people’s welfare. As couples with a view to live happily with “true love,” parties in the union must feel empathized with, especially when they are down emotionally. Couples will learn to be service- oriented because of being socially aware of what they are required to do. Relationships management forms the last component of the roles played by emotional intelligence in personal development. Emotional intelligence helps one to inspire and guide other peoples’ behavior as a role model. This is through challenging others to improve on their performance and realize their full potential, also initiating change management attitude. Learning other people’s reactions, especially that of your spouse enhances amicable conflict resolution strategies among the couples. This is because negotiation skills will improve their interpersonal communication.
Identify the barriers to effective interpersonal interactions.
Interpersonal interaction requires both attentive listening and audibility in speaking. Human beings usually feel appreciated when given the attention they deserve or talked to humbly with respect. Couples should learn to speak and listen to each other at a time. Clashing of conversations is usually perceived to have emanated from competition for attention between the couples, which in most cases develops to a quarrel a misunderstanding. Some of the barriers to listening as put forth by Beebe et al. 2000 are as follows:
Having a critical attitude towards the speaker, couples should be cautious while approaching each other with a preset mind or attitude because it develops into a habit with time.
External distraction can cause loss of concentration to a conversation, either temporarily or permanently. Conversing in an environment with high-pitched noise automatically distorts the intended information and as a result, misunderstanding could lead to unnecessary conflicts.
Distorted focus- diverted attention, which is, trying to focus on listening to the speaker and at the same time attending to other matters. When being talked to by your partner, your listening time is highly valuable because it determines the result of the conversation or subsequent responses and reactions.
Barriers to effective speaking include but not limited to the following:
Ambiguity- a conversation, which lacks clarity tends to obscure the message relayed. The use of abstracts, jargons, and unaccepted informal dialects, in most cases leads to misunderstanding.
Prejudging attitude- rushing to making conclusions usually result in facts conflicting. Couples should try as much as possible to; at all times have a full appraisal of each other’s view before making binding decisions.
Stereotype and generalization- alluding to stereotypes usually blocks the flow of information. Thus, to avoid being looked upon as narrow-minded by your partner, for quoting common and meaningless statements, couples should quit such behaviors.
To conclude on this issue of barriers to effective communication, several strategies to support listening and speaking skills are as follows: For example, direct your focus on your partner during conversation, pay attention, and concentrate on the speaker. At the same time, be empathic with your partner to show that actually you are actively participating in the conversation. Barriers to effective speaking could reduce if the speaker focuses on the issue at hand rather than the person to avoid being emotional. Also, enhance genuineness throughout the talk to show credibility (Beebe et al. 2000).
4). Evaluate appropriate levels of self-disclosure in relationships
Self-disclosure is a situation whereby an individual decides, voluntarily, to share information regarding their private or personal lives, which the other party would not have known. Disclosure happens when relationships that people form has grown strong and mutual trust usually exist between the persons. According to West & Turner, (2006), disclosure heightens the level of intimacy in the relationship. That is, the strength of bond between the couples usually improves and withstands the test of time from marital forces. Couples should learn to trust each other with their properties, and most importantly information pertaining to their lives. This is because disclosure of one party influences the other party to try to justify their part, a situation West & Turner referred to as “dyadic effect.” That is, the compelling tendency of a person’s disclosure influencing the other party to also expose some information they once regarded as private or a secret. Couples should adopt such a style because they will live free of past haunting guilt and they will understand each other’s behavior comprehensively.
Though self-disclosure has its own benefits in marriages or unions of any kind, it is prudent to know the limits of disclosure to avoid hurting the other party. Therefore, there are some guidelines purposely for limiting partners from disgracing with their personal information. These principles limits when and to whom to share your personal data. They include:
Self-disclosure should be confined between two intimate people. It is relieving experience where a couple feels light-hearted, free from inner invisible burdens. The same could take place in group therapy settings and public counseling lectures.
Self-exposure is reciprocal, that is, for it to be successful, it has to be two way (dialogue). The other will also feel the urge to disclose their hidden secrets, because their counterparts disclosed. If a breakdown of reciprocity occurs, then trust between the couples is shaken.
Disclosure has to occur in a certain context of time, not anytime. The duration of the relationship matters a lot on the type of information to disclose and that to retain. The case of newly married couples is challenging, the level of information disclosure should be progressive, just as the relationship grows. Couples should know that definitions of certain statements changes with time. Therefore, the meaning of information disclosed now can imply something different in the future. For example, a historic statement can be associated to one of the couple’s behavior in future, in case they behave in manner likely to be that which they expounded.
Have reasons for self-disclosure. Release of information should not be too voluntarily without justification of a phenomenon. A couple wanting to experience catharsis have a different perception to self-disclosure from those wanting to know themselves better. Maintaining existing relationship and initiating one, requires some degree of understanding between these partners. Therefore, they have to expose part of their identity to the other partner for the growth and development of their relationship apart from themselves being healthy and free of stress (West, 2006).
Some people have had reasons not to disclose their information whatsoever. According to West & Turner, (2006), couples should consider the effect of their disclosure prior to disclosing their data. Majority of the people will fail to release their data because of the following reasons: evading hurting or rejection, avoid unnecessary conflicts, and be conservative with their personality, which reduces potential stress of whether the other party accepted the information with sincerity.
However, in the process of disclosing information regarding their past life, the key principles of disclosure should be observed. For example, when couples choose to disclose their information to each other, honesty and consistency should be explicit. The relevance of the content of the information should remain straightforward; otherwise, one of the parties might be worsening the situation.
5). Describe strategies for managing interpersonal conflicts
Conflicts are inevitable in marital lives or unions. Conflicts usually occur when there is interdependence between people, when couples are aware that they have different goals in life or perceive the other arty as a hindrance to self-actualization. Another principle in understanding marital conflicts is by accepting the positive and negative effects of the conflict resolution process. In spite of conflicts seen as an indicator of turmoil in unions, majority shows the relationship is worthy (Michelle, 2008).
The sources of conflicts usually occur in a sequential style and they include competition for anything, losers denying the credibility of the conflict resolution processes and declare their dissatisfaction. Furthermore, avoiding conflicts and accommodating “defeats” implies sacrificing their personal needs for the sake of peace. Therefore, it is high time for couples to adopt conflicts management techniques, which resembles the steps as outlined by Michelle, (2008):
Conflicts management begins with conflict definition. The conflict description should encompass content and relationship issues. Storing of grievances and retrieving during arbitration endangers the relationship’s future. Hence, the specific problem should be identified and relevant measures developed to solve the problem.
The next step is to examine possible solution through an open conversation. Involve each party of the union equally in problem solving and identification of solutions. Each party should consider the costs and benefits of their proposal.
The third step in conflict resolution after identifying the solution is to test its practicability. This will give room for early improvement on the chosen remedy before its full implementation.
The fourth step is to evaluate the solution to identify its effects, in terms of mutual peace among the parties and their degree of satisfaction. In case the solution proposed is not favorable to both parties, revision or harmonization is necessary for its acceptance.
In conclusion, my recommendations to most newly married couples are to improve on their emotional intelligence regardless of their status. This as explained earlier in the text helps in understanding our emotions in relation to other people’s emotions. Therefore, managing stress, conflicts, and misconceptions that see day-old unions break, are avoidable. Knowledge of interpersonal communication barriers helps individuals to know when and how to express their feelings in a certain way, depending on the circumstance. Understanding such concepts will reduce the escalating number of single families globally, also couples will experience happy marital lives rather than enduring their marital lives.