Effective communication in a marriage involves much more than just talking. It’s all about understanding your partner, listening to them when they need you around, being honest and opening up yourself and your vulnerabilities to them. Of course, all this is easier said than done. Effective communication patters can take years to establish coupled with a lot of effort. And of course, you are bound to have misunderstandings as well which may strain your relationship. At times, certain situations may lead us to believe that we’ve had enough and we respond by giving our partners the silent treatment, a harsh snap back or purposely say rude things to hurt them. All these can permanently damage the relationship.
Being levelheaded and identifying subtle, unique and easier ways to deal with the situation is advised. Don’t simply walk out; it will only continue to fuel the misunderstanding and the end result will never be favorable. Instead carve out new, more productive communication patterns with your spouse to enjoy a happier relationship. We have some ideas that’ll help you out.
1. Listen carefully
Sometimes, when one partner starts to share too much, you might find yourself wondering “when will you stop talking so I can tell you what I think?” Once the partner is done, you haven’t really heard anything they had to say or internalized what they meant.
Simply hearing (and not understanding) is not listening to your partner. If you really listen, you internalize the meaning, understand what it is they want to convey and can then offer your thoughts / advice on the matter. It is important you pay more attention to small things such as body language and tone as they dictate your partner’s feeling and what they are thinking in the moment. To show that you are listening is another way of improving communication.
2. Control the criticism
When communicating with your partner, make an effort to avoid personal attacks and criticism. Refrain from put-downs, insults and negative body language, such as eye-rolling. Instead, keep your language and tone gentle. For example: “Honey, that is an interesting perspective, but I think…..” or “Would you share that with me again, I didn’t quite get it…”
With the first option, you are offering your partner a chance to discuss why they think that and what has brought on that specific idea. In the second option, you are offering your partner a chance to rethink their perspective and identify their own mistake before you give your feedback. With that you limit misunderstandings, get to know how your partner’s mind works and in the very end improve your perceptions of each other. Criticism makes people feel defensive and also limits the listening process which could lead to further escalation of anger and hurt feelings.
3. Stick to the topic
Stay in the present moment and stick to the topic in hand. It would be very unwise to bring older and completely unrelated issues into the conversation. It will only add fuel to ruin matters. Instead, suggest finishing the conversation later, especially if you’re feeling tired, frustrated and seemingly unable to come to a conclusion. Taking some time out will help you both gain a fresh perspective and discuss matters more maturely.
Remember, it is crucial that you discuss one topic at a time and remain respectful of each other’s ability to participate in and commit to the conversation.
4. Give in sometimes
There is no point arguing endlessly about who is right or wrong about the matter. Getting fixated about this always harms the relationship. If being ‘right’ is more important than speaking in a loving manner to your spouse, then you’re letting the issue get lost in the power struggle. Remember, being the bigger person sometimes and compromising once in awhile will only help your relationship.
By applying these tips in your marriage, you’re sure to bring a new approach to the way you communicate with each other. By focusing on communicating respectfully, you will be able to renew your friendship, experience increased intimacy and a stronger bond of trust with your spouse.