Marriages have a tendency of becoming platforms for all of our inner conflicts and games we play with ourselves and with others. In such close relationships, where we share more than just feelings with our spouse, but also our future, our belongings, our relationships with others, it is easy to succumb to the temptation of making our spouse the target for any problem we might have, and we’re commonly unaware of it. We’re unaware of how entrenched our communication has become over the years, and how poisonous it often is. Nevertheless, that is not an excuse not to tackle some of the common problems many married couples have in their interaction:
1. Not discussing the particular problem
Couples that are married share either a long history, or a vision of a long future ahead, or more frequently both. And it’s no wonder that any argument, however benign it may be, often involves not merely the current, particular problem, but also the whole past and future. And this is really unfair, and especially damaging. If you’re mad at your spouse for not taking the dog for a walk, forget about any “again” that comes to your mind, forget that this is only a manifestation his or her disregard to your needs, forget about all the other times that they disregarded your needs, and stop wondering how you’re going to spend your life with such a selfish person. Any efficient communication should always maintain the focus on what is the problem, and not on what surrounds it. And if you step away just for a second, you might even realize that you don’t really mean all those things, and it was just a skipped walk.
2. Not taking a timeout
Taking that step back is what a time-out would bring. But married couples often keep on fighting well after the argument has escalated, and any chance of an effective communication is long lost. They yell, insults are hurled at each other, and someone usually ends up crying while the other one slams the door in fury. But both are hurt and probably significantly angrier and more frustrated than at the beginning. Even though any frustration should be explicitly and directly addressed in a marriage, there is also a moment in which both spouses should just take a break from a futile fight, chill their heads and then return after they had some time to think about what the other side was saying. A time-out at the right time does wonders for a stuck argument.
3. Casting blame
The place in which the majority of marriage arguments gets stuck is usually when one or both of the spouses begins to blame the other for that problem, and often for everything else that might have gone wrong in their relationship, since the beginning of times. This “you” talk is an inefficient and truly hurting way of conversing, and it is bound to end up in a dead-end street.
4. Hitting all the soft spots
Finally, being married inevitably means that you will learn about the weaknesses and the soft spots of your spouse. You know where it hurts and where it feels good, you know them even better than they know themselves. And this is all right, as married couples should cherish one another and protect their partner from feeling any pain. But, in a quarrel, this knowledge commonly turns into a deadly weapon. Married people know exactly where, when, and how to hit to make the most damage. Yet, this might win you the argument, but then you will probably lose some of your spouse’s trust and closeness. And winning a fight, however big or small it may be, is not worth that loss.
Did you recognize any of these tendencies in your own communication with your spouse? It’s no wonder, marriage is such an institution that has a way of turning into a true communication battlefield. Nevertheless, the first step in improving your relationship is to become aware of the problem. Now that you acknowledged the struggles you might have in talking things over with your husband or your wife, it is time to re-learn to communicate. Healthy communication is a basis of a healthy relationship. So, waste no more time, and remember – you got married with the intention to love and respect one another. It is this intention that will help you overcome such an easily solvable problem as inadequate communication – it is you who is in charge of it, after all.