Marriage problems can arise in so many ways. Money worries, ill health, toxic in-laws, child rearing, career problems, and infidelity are just some of the things that can strike at the heart of a marriage and cause a breakdown in communication.
Communication issues are frustrating, and make a bad situation even more insurmountable. If it feels like all you ever do is to fight, or your feelings and worries go unheard, you’ll feel stressed and perhaps even concerned about the future of your marriage.
Problems in your marriage can also cause you to become more distant from each other and the main problem is that you simply don’t communicate. You just don’t talk anymore, and you can feel the closeness you once had slipping away from you.
If any of the above situations sounds like your story, then don’t fret despair. It’s hard to communicate when things are tough, but it’s not impossible. Read on to learn how to communicate with your spouse when things are tough.
Remember that raising the volume doesn’t get your point across
Shouting is what happens when someone feels so frustrated or unheard that they just have to get their point across no matter what. Something snaps and we feel like if we just raise the volume enough, surely we’ll be heard at last.
Unfortunately, that’s usually the last thing to happen. You probably know already what it’s like to be shouted at. It creates a lot of negative emotion and usually triggers a fight-or-flight response. Most people when shouted at will either shout back, or just want to get out of there. The focus shifts from the topic at hand to the conflict.
Shouting escalates tensions. Learn to communicate without it and you’ll already be on the path to better communication.
If you feel frustrated and think that you might start shouting any moment during the fight, take a short time out for a short walk, a cool glass of water, or even to hide away and beat the heck out of a pillow for a few minutes.
Realize that you’re not in it to win it
A spiteful mindset is the destroyer of good communication. When things are tough, it’s easy to fall into the mindset of wanting to “get back” at them, or get your point across just so you can win the fight.
The problem is that when you try to win a fight, you and your spouse both lose. Having a “winner” means that by default one of you gets to gloat and the other is left feeling wounded. That’s not a healthy dynamic for any marriage.
Instead of getting embroiled in a conflict, shift your mindset to that of a team. You and your partner are in this together. Whatever’s got you down, the key is to find a solution which makes you feel like you both have won – together.
Listen to what your partner has to say
Not listening to each other is a real problem when your relationship is already in a rocky patch. Frustration and tensions boil over, and you both want to get your point across.
Instead of just trying to make your point, take a step back and listen to what your partner has to say. Listen to the words they use, pay attention to their tone and pitch of voice, and watch their expressions and body language. You’ll learn so much more about where they’re right now, and what’s really bothering them.
Learning to listen can be difficult at first. Some couples find it helpful to set a timer for ten minutes and take turns to talk without interruption.
Ask the right questions
It’s not surprising we ask the wrong questions sometimes. After all, there’s not a class at school on what to do when you’re older and married and it feels like everything is going wrong. It’s easy to slip into “why did you say that?” and “what do you expect me to do, I’m trying my best!”
Try swapping out those questions for “what do you need?” and “what can I do to support you?” Let your partner know that you’re in this with them, and that their feelings and needs are important. Encourage them to do the same for you and before long you’ll be building solutions together instead of getting caught up in problems.
Communicating when things are tough isn’t impossible. Just a few adjustments will bolster your confidence in communicating without conflict, and your relationship will be stronger as a result.