Communication is the basis for a healthy marriage. It’s how you and your spouse connect, share your thoughts and views, and settle disputes. Relationship communication skills don’t come easy for everyone. Some couples will have to work on their techniques for years. But over time, they will be able to speak openly and honestly with one another.
No matter how connected you and your spouse are now, there is always room to strengthen your relationship.
Here are 10 relationship communications skills that will save your marriage:
1. Give your partner your full attention
Don’t text and talk. Whether your spouse is telling you a joke or revealing a deep family secret, you should be giving them your undivided attention.
Put away distracting technology, mute or turn off the television, and lean in towards your partner. This will show them you care about their information. Nodding and maintaining eye-contact are both excellent ways of showing your partner you are listening.
2. Don’t interrupt your partner
Being interrupted is the quickest way to escalate an argument. When communicating with your partner, it’s important that both parties feel they had a chance to speak and to be heard.
It may feel tempting to squeeze in your own opinion while your partner is still talking, especially if you feel they have a fact wrong, but it is important to wait. Giving your partner your attention while staying focused and connected shows your partner respect.
3. Create a neutral space
Communicating isn’t always easy. Many couples find it beneficial to tackle “tough” martial topics in a neutral space, such as the kitchen table. It may sound silly, but discussing your partner’s lack of sexual prowess while in bed can make them feel attacked and can cause them to view the bedroom in a negative light in the future.
Arguing at a relative’s house is another example of one partner feeling like they have the proverbial “high ground” in the argument.
4. Speak face to face
One of the best relationship communication skills you can use is always speaking about important topics face to face. Texting is certainly not the avenue for having serious relationship conversations or for making big decisions.
Instead, choose a time when you can be face to face with your partner. This way you can both give one another your full attention and you can read one another’s non-verbal cues. When things are said in person, there is little room for things getting “lost in translation” through tech.
5. Use “I” statements when problems arise
One problem couples run into when they are arguing is attacking each other. By using “I” statements, you take the pressure off your partner. Instead of saying “YOU did this and it made me angry”, try communicating “I feel that when THIS occurred, my feelings were hurt.” See the difference? You made the problem your own, instead of attacking your partner.
This simple, yet effective technique prevents either of you from going into attack-mode or becoming needlessly defensive with one another.
6. Be honest with your spouse
Being honest isn’t always easy, but it is the key to a healthy relationship.
One study about “12 Healthy Dating Relationship Qualities” found that good communication, honesty, and trust were listed as some of the highest qualities.
Being honest means telling your partner when you feel there are issues that need to be talked about. It also means admitting when you were wrong and apologizing instead of making excuses. Not only does honesty help foster genuine open communication between you and your spouse, it also helps build trust.
7. Talk about the little things
One of the great relationship communication skills is when you and your partner can talk about the little things as well as the big things. You can strengthen your marriage by talking about your day, your thoughts, or share funny stories from your week.
When you are married, every topic should be open for discussion. There shouldn’t be anything that is too awkward or uncomfortable to share. By talking about the little things you will make it easier to talk about more important topics in the future.
8. Use the 24-hour-rule
When two people are married and living together, there are bound to be bumps in the road.
Some days you are going to feel like rainbows and butterflies float through your home when your partner is near. Other times, you’ll feel a headache coming on when your spouse is near. If you are feeling frustrated with your partner and are about to voice your complaint, pause for a moment. Practice the 24-hour rule.
So she didn’t empty the dishwasher or he didn’t pick up his socks. Is it really the end of the world? Will it matter to you in 24-hours? If not, consider letting it go.
9. Make physical contact
No matter what tone your conversation is taking, physical contact is important. Low-intensity stimulation of the skin, such as touching a partner or stroking their arm, promotes the release of oxytocin. Not only does this love hormone promote bonding and empathy in romantic partners, it can also act as an anti-stress agent and promotes cooperative behavior.
10. Communication should be fun
Communicating is how you talk about family and financial matters, problems and their solutions, and how you and your spouse make decisions. But, don’t forget that communicating should be fun, too.
Talking with your partner means sharing funny stories, dreams for the future, and sharing in deep conversation. These are the moments that create a deeper emotional connection and boost oxytocin and dopamine. Always make time to check in with your spouse verbally, whether the conversation to follow is serious or silly.
Communication is the key to a happy, healthy relationship. You can improve your communication in marriage by being open and honest about your physical and emotional needs, remaining an open book regarding money matters, and giving your partner your full attention.