How To Really Communicate in Marriage
Ever wish you could really understand what your spouse is saying?
You hear the words, you respond, and s/he reacts in a completely different way than you expected.
You know you aren’t communicating clearly with each other but it doesn’t make sense to you why you aren’t.
It’s like he speaks one language and she another.
You both speak the same language but apparently the words don’t mean the same to each of you.
It’s extremely frustrating to say the least!
There are things NOT to do when communicating with another person, things you should ALWAYS do, as well as how to understand what the other person is actually trying to tell you and how to clearly get across what YOU want to communicate.
No, it’s not rocket science, but it’s amazing how many people mess it up.
Maybe you’ve been one of those people.
Maybe the person you care about is.
Maybe both of you.
Let’s take a deep dive into how to effectively communicate with your spouse.
Of course there are effective ways to communicate with your partner to keep the peace, to ask for something you want, to express your needs and wants, to discuss something serious that may be uncomfortable, etc.
However, there are many communication pitfalls to avoid when trying to get your point across to someone else.
Being in attack mode:
Coming across as aggressive with body language or tone, yelling, or being verbally abusive is not going to get you anywhere.
Beating around the bush:
Being indirect with what you are saying can be confusing. Practice what you want to say before the conversation or at least go in with confidence knowing what your point will be; avoid being ambiguous–it’s just a waste of time.
Adding in extra fluff:
This one is similar to the previous pitfall.
Adding in extra details or fluff can be confusing or frustrating to the person you are communicating with.
Be direct and clear and get to the point of the conversation.
Adding in extra fluff can come across that you aren’t that serious about the topic.
Using ‘you’ language:
Saying, “You need to do this,” or “You make me angry” are not effective.
This can cause the other person to become defensive and put up their guard.
Plus, it sounds quite critical and combative.
Brushing off what your partner says, interrupting, being sarcastic or condescending, or trying to rush them while they are talking are all invalidating.
No one wants to feel like what they are saying isn’t being taken seriously.
Speaking in absolutes/universals and over exaggerating:
You always do.
Every single time I come home you are _____________.
You’ve never once told me _______________.
Using terms like always or never, for example, are absolute statements and should be avoided.
It is highly unlikely that your partner always has a bad attitude; even if you truly feel that way, it’s probably not the best time to bring that up.
Giving the silent treatment:
Don’t be flippant.
Completely refusing to communication will not get you anywhere.
Playing games such as this is not effective.
Assuming that you know what your partner is thinking can cause conflict.
Instead of assuming, ask questions and get a better understanding of what is truly going on.
‘Should’ing’ all over your partner:
Telling your partner that they should do something or feel a certain way isn’t supportive.
They have their own free will.
Hearing this can cause the other party to get defensive and could shut down communication.
Choosing when and when not to listen:
Being attentive and actively listening during a conversation but then being avoidant or closed off for certain parts can come across as disrespectful and uninterested.
On a lighter note, now that you know what to avoid when communicating with your significant other or spouse, there are ways in which you should communicate that will bring you closer together and help promote a healthy relationship.
When your partner expressing their feelings to you, always let them know you understand and hear them and show empathy.
Show that you are listening by making eye contact and engage in the conversation by asking follow-up questions, paraphrase what they said if need be, and respond appropriately to what they said.
Be free of distractions:
Put up your phone and tablet and have the conversation away from distractions.
Depending on the type of conversation, you may even want to find an area outside of the house.
Watch your body language:
When communicating you want to have open body language, not crossed or closed off.
You want to be inviting. Make eye contact as well, which is similarly important to show active engagement and that you care.
Use “I feel” statements:
I feel frustrated because…or I feel as if you aren’t putting forth effort in our marriage because…Using specific and clear statements such as these keeps the focus on your feelings and reasoning and doesn’t come off sounding like you are placing blame.
Use specific details:
Your partner cannot read your mind.
When telling them how you feel or what is going on, use very specific details or examples to back up what you have to say; otherwise, you might not be that convincing.
Show your love and commitment:
If you are communicating about something serious, uncomfortable, or not-so-positive, your partner will need some reassurance.
Despite the conversation, show your love and commitment to the relationship or marriage.
End on a positive note:
No matter what happens during the conversation, always try to end on a positive note, or at least a neutral one.
If you need to take space, give it a time limit and meet back up at a specific time to regroup.
Don’t go to bed mad.
Communication issues are one of the leading causes of breakups and divorces.
Many couples go into a relationship not knowing the other’s communication style, what their past experiences have been, and what their goals are surrounding communication in a relationship.
Every couple should be aware of these common communication pitfalls and know how to communicate positively and effectively—reading them together and having a discussion afterward can be a great way to open the dialogue about communication, which in turn can help increase effective skills for when something comes up in the future that needs to be seriously discussed.
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