Most marriage conflicts are caused by one issue: miscommunication. Communication seems simple. You talk, then your spouse talks, then you’re good! Right?
Communication is a complex topic. Not only do people communicate differently but there are also multiple ways to communicate such as intention, tone, frequency, verbalization, and even physical.
We have issues that every other marriage couple faces: in-laws, both families living on the other side of the country on opposite ends (always a touchy conversation regarding splitting the holidays), financial issues, heath problems, you name it. But we’ve resolved every single one of our fights within one hour or less through intentional communication in our marriage.
We’ve simplified communication in marriage and compiled our experience into 10 easy-to-accomplish ways to become a pro-communicator with your spouse.
1. Replace nagging with encouragement
Nagging doesn’t get you anywhere. It’s negative and belittles your spouse. When you change your nagging to encouragement, your spouse will be happier to respond and will feel respected. Start finding things your spouse does around the house that makes you happy and then compliment them on it. It will change your outlook and build their self-esteem which then makes your spouse happy to help around the house.
2. Manage your expectations
Communicating expectations immediately when it comes to planning, vacations, the kids, finances, and even date night will leave out any room for disappointment. We have another great post you might like, that dives deeper into managing expectations in your marriage.
3. It’s okay to fight, just do it right
Don’t call each other names, don’t raise your voices, don’t laugh or mimic your spouse, don’t pull other people into the fight, don’t use sarcasm, don’t blame, don’t interrupt, and don’t drop the word divorce.
4. Pay attention
Really listen and engage in what your spouse is saying. If they’re speaking to you, respond, adjust your body language, and make eye contact. If you don’t understand what they’re saying, try repeating it back to them. This shows your spouse that you are listening and making an effort, and this helps you really grasp what your spouse is trying to communicate to you.
5. Body language
Body language will speak just as loudly as the words you say. When you and your spouse are speaking, don’t make threatening movements, face your spouse, uncross your arms and legs, make eye contact, and lean into your spouse while they are speaking. Holding hands while in conversation is another way to communicate to your spouse that you’re listening and engaged. If they say something nice or something that would warrant affection, gently squeeze their hand.
6. Wear your spouses shoes
Putting yourself in your spouses shoes will immediately help you understand where they’re coming from and what they’re feeling. To do this, you need to get out of your own shoes and put aside your bias. Then look at your partners outlying situations. Are they already stressed? Has something like this happened before? Have empathy and really take the time to understand why they feel the way they do.
7. Think before you speak
This might seem basic but we all forget to do this in the moment. Take some time out during an argument to press pause and really think about the words you’re going to say. Even in casual conversation, it’s easy to say something flippant that will come across disrespectful and end up hurting your spouse emotionally. Don’t use your words as weapons either. Be thoughtful and intentional with your words because they really are a powerful tool in your marriage.
8. Respect opinions
You and your spouse are two very different people, with two different experiences, cultures, personalities, and beliefs that shape who you are. It’s inevitable that the two of you will have slightly different opinions (sometimes even polar opposite opinions) and that’s okay! Appreciate that your spouse has a different view point than yours, and that it diversifies your relationship and understanding of the world around you. Never shut down your spouses opinions as doing so will actually make them more reluctant to open up to you in the future. If you disagree with their opinion, then respond that even though you have a different view, you respect their diverse point of view.
9. Don’t get defensive
Getting defensive can not only impede communication with your spouse because you cast blame, irrationally communicate, and toss out a few words you won’t be proud of; you also become shut down to being open and responsive with your spouse.
10. And finally, schedule check-ins
You schedule check ups with the doctor when you want to keep your body healthy so why wouldn’t you do the same with your relationship? Most areas of miscommunication center around topics that need weekly or monthly check-ins anyway, such as kids, finances, chores around the house, connecting with each other, and marriage goals. Schedule a time at least once a month to check in with each other on well being and critical functions around your home and relationship.
11. Bonus: Read more communication resources
Always work to develop your communication in your marriage further. Set a goal with your spouse to read a book on communication quarterly or go to a marriage conference annually. We’re passionate about investing in the marriage before it’s too late. Continually learning and growing in your marriage, especially when it comes to communication, will set you up for success in the years to come.
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