Words are very powerful. Say something mean and hurtful in anger and it may be difficult to take back or forget. But when you say anything kind, it can be inspiring and helpful to someone. Words have power and must be chosen with much thought.
In your marriage, conversations between you and your spouse can build your relationship or break it down. With mindfulness, you can practice good listening skills and effective responses that will encourage appreciation, respect and good-will with your partner. Or, you can always have an agenda and create divisions, animosity, loneliness and despair.
There are a few specific skills and techniques you can learn so that the words you use express exactly what you want to say and what you hope your partner understands. Here are some suggestions:
Pay attention to how the conversation is going.
Are you engaged with gestures like nodding, smiling and making encouraging short phrases like, “Okay,” “No kidding!,” “Is that right?” or “I hear you?”
Repeat what is said by paraphrasing
So your partner knows you get it. “So what I hear you saying is…” or “Do you mean …” Then clarify the conversation with questions like, “Is this your point when you say …?” You’ll be amazed at how often we misinterpret what is being said and need concrete clarification to get the information straight.
Never assume anything
Partners tend to expect that their other halves must know what they are thinking or feeling. That is a wrong expectation. Express yourself whenever you need to and check if you’re being ‘heard’ using the active listening method stated above.
Don’t be on a mission to always be right!
Sometimes partners get fixated about being right all the time. This is completely unnecessary and damaging to a relationship. Rather ask yourself: Would you be right or be loved? People, who are incapable of accepting another person’s viewpoint, make poor relationship partners. If you find yourself being this person, then know that your relationship is heading towards disaster. Don’t let that happen or get into a relationship with someone like that!
Your body language includes your tone of voice
Your tone of voice and cadence continuously sends messages to your partner. Nothing has a greater impact on a relationship than the “wordless” messages you send. This is crucial as it helps to keep your relationship strong and healthy. It is impossible to know what upsets your partner all the time but be alert to how your body language and actions might appear from their perspective.
Give those closest to you the benefit of the doubt
Give those closest to you the benefit of doubt by remembering positive things about them and by not being too critical. This is most difficult with people who have hurt you. It’s very important to build a loving, trusting connection with another person, but it is even more satisfying to build it through respect, friendship and integrity. In other words, be the catalyst to heal any poor relationships. The more you are aware of your part in the relationship, the more you can remedy any shortcomings you may have, through your actions and your words.
Remember, words have a way of connecting people or dividing them. Most people in your life may forget what you said or even forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel! Will your words belittle the other person? Will you be inflicting emotional pain through your comments? These are important factors to consider.
Your choice of words can prevent a heart from breaking, or ruin a friendship that has lasted over 20 years. So, let your words be a source of comfort, support, encouragement, peace and love – and you’ll be a better person because of it. The effort you make to communicate better takes patience, but the outcome is usually very positive and rewarding.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
More by Amy Sherman