How to communicate better with your spouse can seem like a daunting task to learn. Looking back, try to remember a time when each of you communicated with one other very fluidly. It was as if you were the same person – like you could read each other’s minds. While marriage does not change the ability to communicate with the person you love, it can incorporate additional stresses. Instead of being carefree in a budding, romantic relationship, you find yourselves drudging through the mundane day-to-day chores. As you age and grow in your marriage, the ways in which you talk and act can alter; it is important to continue to learn about yourself and your spouse in order to adapt to these changes. Try the following pointers-
Many of us do not listen to understand what the other person is saying; most will listen in order to respond. Rather than trying to know how your spouse is feeling or what they are thinking, you may find yourself considering what you plan to say next. Playing defensive can be instrumental in the breakdown of communication between spouses. Instead of routinely considering how you will present your own information, take out time to actively listen to your spouse. Be intentional about how you are presenting yourself in the conversation and engage with your spouse in conversation. Give the other person plenty of time to speak and be willing to set aside your current desires in order to fully hear and understand what your partner is saying.
2. Using verbal and nonverbal language
As mentioned before, it is important when communicating with your spouse to be present in the conversation both verbally and nonverbally. It is easy to become lax and reduce your awareness of body language and other nonverbal cues but they will not be missed by your spouse! Crossed arms, avoidant eye contact, the “silent treatment,” and eye rolling, while not verbal, communicate a clear message to your spouse. Be sure to use body posture and gestures that indicate you are listening and are fully invested in what your significant other has to say. You may not be in agreement, but appropriate words, tone of voice, and body language can make a significant difference in the effectiveness of what is being communicated.
3. Understanding how your spouse communicates
Listening and giving the appearance of investment are important, but so is understanding how your partner communicates. Is your spouse one who takes time to think of what he or she wants to say before actually saying it? Does your spouse become quiet when angry? Do you know when your partner may need space before proceeding with the conversation? It is vital to take into consideration how your spouse chooses to communicate; if waiting to have the conversation is appropriate and is what your partner needs, then by all means wait! If there is something about the way your spouse communicates that is incompatible with your methods, take time when you are engaged in positive and healthy communication before discussing how a compromise could be made.
4. Practice patience
No one likes to work on their level of patience! Being mindful of the needs of others may come easy for you, but this does not mean being patient with your spouse is just as simple! Living with someone day in and day out can at times become very frustrating. Your husband forgot to take out the trash on trash day; your wife did not buy the ice cream you asked for when she went grocery shopping; your husband forgot to pay the electric bill before it was due. It is not difficult to become frustrated or even angry about things like these – it is vital to use those moments to take a deep breath and practice patience. There may have been something preventing your spouse from doing what needed to be done or what was asked of them. Wait until you are able to have a calm conversation with your spouse; do not approach in anger but rather from a place of understanding. Life happens!
5. Be mindful of your words
Above all else, be mindful of the words you choose to use when talking with your husband or wife. Words have power! You can either speak life and positivity into your spouse or tear your partner down by berating and belittling with negative words. Words can hurt or they can heal – you are the one who chooses what your words are capable of doing.