I’m sure you’ve heard time and time again that communication is the key to a successful relationship.
After all, you can spend hours communicating with your spouse every day in your marriage.
But as much as we are told that it is all about the communication, often we aren’t actually given any clues about how we can become better communicators.
This post gives three simple but vital pieces of information about how to improve the effectiveness of your communication with your spouse, and the benefits this will have for your marriage.
1. Learn to keep your voice tone under control
Almost every romantic movie has a scene where lovers are screaming abuse at each other at the top of their lungs, until eventually they become so fired up that they simply start to devour each other’s bodies and passionately make love right then and there. Argument over.
But in reality, this is not usually how it works. Have you ever felt like making love to your partner right after a screaming match? I’m going to take a wild guess here and assume the answer’s ‘no’.
It’s true, yelling does allow you to let loose a lot of strong, negative emotion. But what is your spouse getting when you do this?
Instead of taking in the message you are trying to express, all they are able to pay attention to is the emotion you are throwing at them. And as a result, your spouse reacts to this emotion with a defensive wall.
In this mode, they are incapable of responding to what you are saying with responsiveness and understanding.
If you often yell at your spouse, it’s time to stop doing this now. Instead, let your words speak volumes for themselves.
When you can calm your emotions enough to be able to clearly say exactly how you are feeling, your message is much more powerful and easily understood.
If you need to go to another room for a while to calm down enough to be able to speak without yelling, this is okay. However, let your partner know that this is what you are doing, and that you do want to continue the conversation once you’ve calmed down.
2. Stop trying to compete with your spouse
Do your conversations with your spouse always end up in a battle? Where one person is trying to prove the other wrong?
If this sounds like you, it’s time to remember an important point: you are married. Remember those vows you made? That means you and your spouse are on the same TEAM.
So what are you actually ‘winning’ when you win the argument?
The truth is, when one spouse always needs to win, you both lose.
It is important to always consider one another’s views and try to come to a mutual agreement or solution, rather than trying to push your own viewpoint and get the upper hand.
So rather than approaching differences of opinion in terms of who’s right, try to gain a better understanding of your spouse’s views and see if there’s anything you can learn from them. This way, you will end up having a discussion rather than an argument.
Look for solutions to problems that are going to serve both of you well, rather than talking about who or what may have caused the problem.
As you start communicating and facing problems as a team, your will start to feel more like a team in your day-to-day life, which will strengthen the bonds of love and support between you.
3. Know that the worst thing to say is nothing at all
The silent treatment, in which one partner chooses to shut down verbal communication with their spouse in the midst of a problem or conflict, is an extremely ineffective form of communication.
Choosing silence rather than talking problems through builds resentment, confusion, and puts a wall between you and your spouse.
If something is really bothering you, it is important to let your spouse know, rather than acting ‘off’ with them for a reason they may not understand.
Note that the ‘silent treatment’ is different to needing to take some space to yourself to get in a calm frame of mind before you discuss an issue.
The difference here is that in this case, you do intend to still have the discussion, you just need a bit of space first.
Whereas with the silent treatment, you are deliberately choosing to withhold communication in order to send a message to your spouse.
So if you tend to shut down when you’re feeling hurt or frustrated, one thing that you might like to work on is being able to open up and talk about what you’re feeling to your spouse.
This may be a real challenge for you, but you will find that once you can let things out in the open, a lot of the tension that you are holding inside will be released.
The best way to approach this is to concentrate on making ‘I’ statements rather than ‘you’ statements.
So rather than putting things across in an accusing way, e.g. “You never even bother to say good bye before you leave!”, say things in a way that focuses on how YOU feel, e.g. “It always makes me feel a little sad and rejected when you don’t say goodbye before you leave in the morning”.
You can’t always expect your spouse to be able to read your mind, so you need to make your wants and needs really clear.
If you can use ‘I’ statements to let your spouse know how you feel, you will probably find that they respond to this well, and are genuinely sorry for offending you or letting you down.
Do you and your spouse have problems with your communication? Is one of you a lot more vocal than the other? Please share your experiences below.