There are so many moving parts within a long and fulfilling marriage. There needs to be an abundance of love and respect for one another. To keep the love alive, honesty and trust are necessary as well. If you’re going to spend your life with someone, there needs to be a place for all of these elements within your relationship.
But without adequate communication skills, your marriage may fall short of your expectations. Communication is the glue that holds everything in place, allowing the love to grow and the trust to blossom. If you can’t communicate your love for someone, how will they ever know? If you can’t communicate openly and honestly with your partner, how can there ever be trust?
This is why building your communication skill set is foundational to your marriage’s success. By working on how you communicate with your husband or wife, your relationship will flourish.
Let’s take some time and look at 5 things you begin practicing today that will transform how you and your spouse communicate. Practice these things on a daily basis and the results will speak for themselves.
1. Take Stephen Covey’s advice
Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, says, that in terms of interpersonal communication, you should always seek first to understand and then to be understood. This practice can apply to how you interact with anyone, but in terms of how you operate in your marriage, this advice is golden.
We all have a tendency to spend most of our time “listening” to someone else thinking about how we’re going to respond. Rather than sitting back and taking in all the information coming our way, we find one word, phrase, or snippet of their dialogue and make decisions about what we’re going to shoot back their way. Because of this, we don’t authentically hear everything that is said. If that’s the case, then our response may be lacking.
Next time you’re in the middle of a meaningful conversation with your husband or wife, resist the urge to think about how to respond before they’re done talking. Just sit back, listen, and actually hear what they have to say. Once you’ve done that, then respond accordingly.
2. Earlier rather than later
Don’t put off uncomfortable conversations. The reason that they are uncomfortable is because they probably need to happen. If your husband isn’t holding his weight as a father, express your feelings in a constructive way. If your wife hasn’t been herself lately, and it’s negatively affecting your relationship, speak up.
The longer you let these conversations sit on the shelf, the more the issues will fester. Once you’ve identified a problem, and you feel that it needs to be addressed, take care of business.
3. Offer solutions, not problems
Once you’ve decided that you need to have a serious chat with your spouse, make sure that you enter the conversation with a solution oriented approach. If you start the conversation by telling them how emotionally disconnected they are or how mean they’ve been, but don’t offer any solutions, you’re doing both parties a disservice.
Picture this: a couple is in the middle of an argument when the wife tells the husband…
“You’re just not the same fun-loving man that I married.”
The problem is clearly stated, but there’s no solution to speak of. Two things are now bound to happen. The husband will probably get offended or defensive. He may lash out with reasons why he’s not that way anymore, placing blame on his wife, and leveling up the toxicity of the conversation. He also might retreat and close himself off, uninterested in addressing the issue.
In both cases, the problem that’s been stated will never be resolved. Voicing your issue with something is fine, but be prepared with what could be done to fix the problem.
Rather than just telling the husband that she’s unhappy about his dimmed personality, maybe she should suggest activities they can do together or create opportunities for the husband to rediscover old hobbies. Having a solution available provides a new focus to the already uncomfortable conversation. Stating a problem without trying to help find a solution is just complaining.
4. Make expectations clear
What do you expect from your partner and from your relationship? The quality of your relationship will rely heavily on the standard of your stated expectations. Some of us make the mistake of thinking that certain aspects of a relationship “go without saying”. If it’s not said aloud, then you can’t be upset if your partner doesn’t meet your expectation. If you want to have kids, let it be known. If you don’t want to be cheated on, tell your partner. If you have certain beliefs about the details of your relationship, make your spouse aware.
Don’t be fooled by thinking, “They should know better.” If you haven’t made it clear, you have no ground to stand on when you get mad.
5. Don’t go to sleep mad at your spouse
There’s a certain residue that lingers after a disagreement. When you’ve chosen to spend your entire life with someone, you are bound to push each other’s buttons every once in a great while. If you end up arguing close to bedtime, make sure that you resolve or find closure on the subject before you roll over and go to sleep. You don’t have to be happy with the result, necessarily, but you can’t be fuming.
Having that closure before you try to get some shut eye could make a huge difference in how the next day or so of your relationship will play out. If you come to a respectful conclusion to your conversation, you’ll wake up with little to no resentment and be able to get back to a loving place that day. If you don’t settle your differences before you close your eyes, you’re likely to wake up annoyed at your spouse, ready for round 2.
Do your marriage a favor and make it a rule to resolve your disagreements before you fall asleep. It will decrease the resentment that may follow the next day if you hadn’t reached a place of closure the night before.