Couples could avoid a marriage counsellor or therapy if they practice this one habit – reducing stress and anxiety before beginning important conversations. One of biggest mistakes that couples make is trying to communicate when one or both spouses are feeling anxious or worried about something. The fact is, when you are anxious, it’s very difficult to listen or feel compassion and empathy. The state of anxiety and compassion are mutually exclusive, that is, you can’t be compassionate when you’re feeling anxious! Many couples are not aware of or in touch with their anxiety and this often results in negative patterns like criticism, blaming, defensiveness and withdrawal. The key is to relax with each other and make friends before attempting to communicate. Focus on reducing anxiety. Some ways to do this are: holding hands, making eye contact, hugs, going for a walk, taking some deep breaths, sharing an appreciation, etc. When you do this, you’ll likely feel more relaxed, connected and able to have a more effective conversation…and a better relationship!