Even experienced couples have problems when it comes to basic issues such as communication in marriage. It’s easy for anyone to misread their partner’s actions or words when they feel out of sorts in some way.
Emotions affect the dynamics of a relationship, especially in the way couples communicate. The act of communication involves sending and receiving messages from one another – when feelings are thrown into the mix, it can upset the process.
Being aware of this basic fact is an important part of understanding how to communicate with your spouse. Otherwise, it could spell trouble for both of you.
For instance, a tired wife who spends the whole day taking care of the children and keeping the house tidy is at risk of taking her husband’s words the wrong way or sending the wrong message. Meanwhile, the husband who comes home exhausted from work is also in danger of adding fuel to the fire.
When you put them together in this context, one of them could misconstrue the other’s statements and respond by firing back. Then, the other partner will feel hurt and strike back, thus creating a cycle of destructive communication.
Let’s say that the husband asked his wife to take out the trash with him. Being tired from work, he wanted to take out the drudgery by chatting about his day with his wife while taking out the trash.
After a day’s worth of chores however, the wife’s patience has worn thin and thinks that he could very well do it himself. So she snaps with “Well, unlike you, I’ve been taking care of the house all day so I’m sure you can manage the trash on your own.”
The husband now feels criticized and underappreciated because he wasn’t out all day doing nothing – he was at work. On the other hand, the wife perceived her husband as too dependent on her for even the simplest of things.
From the wife’s perspective, she may feel a constant need to keep the household in order while the husband might think he needs to “pick up the slack” at home after working at the office.
Naturally, feelings are bound to get hurt when either of them starts communicating with such an undercurrent of presumptions.
Having said that, how do you prevent a breakdown of communication in marriage?
The first step is being aware of the fact that coming from a place of resentment has two effects: it not only makes your statements emotionally charged, it also affects the way you receive your partner’s words.
In learning how to have a happy marriage, you should realize that communication in marriage is a two-way street. Sending and receiving messages need to be free of negative emotions in order to keep things from escalating.
But you might say that denying the existence of your emotions is impossible, much like telling people not to breathe.
However, that’s not at all what we’re saying. Knowing how to communicate with your spouse isn’t about NOT having feelings – it’s how you manage them.
Feeling bad and sorting out the matter with your partner is one thing. It’s quite another to feel bad, let your resentment reach critical mass and then lash out at your partner.
Habitually doing the latter isn’t how to communicate with your spouse; it only encourages an atmosphere of contempt and criticism.
Couples who are good at marriage communication understand the importance of talking about their feelings instead of using it to fuel their statements or filter their partner’s words.
Emotions can cause lapses in judgment, so the best way to avoid this is by explaining to your partner where you’re coming from rather than assuming they already know.
When you make a greater effort to understand each other’s perspectives, the less likely you are to get caught up in your own and forget to consider your partner’s feelings.
In the end, it’s not about running away from your emotions. On the contrary, it’s about recognizing their role in your relationship and effectively articulating them to your spouse.
Once you begin to handle conflicts this way, you’ll develop better marriage communication skills and have a happier relationship.