Have you and your spouse reached the stage where you ‘know’ what each other is going to say before you say it? Maybe you find yourselves talking less than you did before and you feel that your communication could do with a little encouragement. Even the best marriages can benefit from a bit of upliftment from time to time, like a drink of cool water on a hot day. These ten practical and trusty tips can go a long way towards helping you communicate freely and happily with your spouse.
1. Be thankful
How often do you really take the time to notice all the things you have to be grateful for in your relationship with your spouse? And when you do notice, do you verbalize it? Just a simple ‘thank you’ can help immensely in opening up the channels of communication. And the great thing is that the more you practice thankfulness, the more you will have to be thankful for. So make a point of thanking your spouse at least once every single day for something with which they have enriched your life.
2. Stay away from accusation
When those little irritations and frustrations come, take the time to explain exactly how you feel. Don’t immediately lash out at your spouse with a loaded accusation along the lines of ‘you always…’ or ‘you never…’ Avoid making a judgment of their motives and intentions, because you may well be very wrong. Rather talk it through and find out why and what the real story is. In this way, you can encourage communication and find a way forward together.
3. Some things don’t need to be said
Transparency has its merits but sometimes discretion is needed when your words could cause more damage than good. Before blurting out all your negative thoughts about your spouse’s family, ask yourself whether this is necessary to say, or whether you should rather keep some of your thoughts and feelings to yourself. Just because you want to ‘get something off your chest’ doesn’t mean you have to dump it onto your spouse.
4. Be aware of timing
If you talk about the right thing at the wrong time, your communication could be seriously hindered or dampened. Perhaps you are a ‘night owl’ who feels wide awake in the late evenings while your spouse is an ‘early bird’ who can’t keep awake past ten o’ clock. Then you would need to find a time which works for both of you when you can discuss any important matters. And it’s no good bringing up serious issues just as your spouse is rushing off to work. When you are sensitive and careful to choose the right timing, then your communication can be greatly enhanced.
5. Use mirroring
Your bathroom mirror can help you to know how your face looks and whether or not you are ready to take on the world. In the same way, your spouse can let you know how you are coming across in your communication. Sometimes what we mean to say is perceived and understood by others in a totally different way. So mirroring can be a valuable tool for enhancing and clarifying your communication with your spouse as you ask simple questions like “What do you mean by that?” or “What I hear you saying is …”
6. Keep in touch – literally
Your communication can be greatly encouraged when you are in touch with each other physically; holding hands or gently resting your arm across her shoulders while her hand is on your leg. When you are having a disagreement or argument your instinctive reaction is to withdraw and pull away from each other. Next time try drawing closer deliberately and see if it helps you to communicate in a gentler and more loving way.
7. Be clear about what you want
In a normal healthy marriage relationship, it is not possible to read your spouse’s mind. It is unfair to expect him or her to know what you want or need at all times. Rather just communicate clearly and be specific about what you need. Talk about how you can share the load so that one of you doesn’t feel overburdened. And let each other know what kind of treats or outings would make you feel loved and cherished. Then you have a much better chance of satisfying each other’s expectations and finding contentment in your marriage.
8. Cherish your memories
Find pictures of the two of you which were taken during a special vacation or on a favorite date and find a way to celebrate it. Perhaps you are into scrapbooking or maybe into simply framing your memories. How about getting them enlarged and printed onto canvas to hang on your walls? Or maybe on a mug, mousepad or fridge magnet where you can see and enjoy them every day. Your communication will be encouraged too as you talk about the good times you have had together.
9. Learn something new together
When you learn something new it brings a sense of freshness and hope into your life. Doing new things together with your spouse is especially enriching as it gives you fresh fuel for communication and allows you to see your spouse in a different light. If you are both sporty, how about taking up a new sport together. Or you could take cooking classes and enjoy eating the meals you have made. Maybe you are feeling creative and want to learn how to do some craft or artwork together.
10. Pray together
One of the best ways to encourage communication with your spouse is to pray together. As you bring your needs before your Maker you will sense the security and peace of knowing that you are not struggling alone. As the two of you look up together you will be able to go forward in a better way, hand in hand and communicating with each other every step of the way.