What do you think the most difficult part of a marriage is? I would answer communication. In fact, I would say that’s the most difficult part of any relationship.
A relationship of any kind consists of two different people coming from different backgrounds bringing different personalities, experiences, opinions, and values to the relationship. Communication is key. And so difficult.
Something that seems harmless to you might be truly offensive to your friend, colleague, or even your spouse. One word or phrase could have different connotations and meanings to different people. Oh, and don’t forget that communication is so much more than words. There’s facial expressions, body language, tone of voice and so many more things to worry about.
Sigh. It’s no wonder we see so much arguing, grudge holding, and people taking offence everywhere we look.
Your marriage should be the most important relationship you will ever have. We don’t want arguments and fighting all the time. Especially if they simply come from a misunderstanding. Or if they could have been avoided by communicating a little more effectively.
So here are ten tips to help you work on your communication with your spouse:
ONE || Be Specific
When you ask your spouse to do something, explain why, how, and when. For example, maybe you ask him to take out the trash, but he sees that the trash can isn’t full so he figures it can wait. But what you didn’t tell him is that you just threw away the remains of raw meat and it will stink up the house if the trash doesn’t go out tonight. So what could have turned into an argument about being lazy verses nagging could be avoided just by communicating why.
TWO || Communicate All Expectations
Your spouse isn’t going to know what your expectations are unless you express them. If you want to go on an intentional date without technology, make sure your spouse doesn’t think you’re just “hanging out” like any other night.
THREE || Vocalize What Bothers You
Even if it might start an argument, don’t just say you’re fine when you’re not. Chances are, you’re not really saving your spouse from your problems. He knows you’re not fine. So now he’s worrying about what is bothering you. It’s much better to get it out there and work through the issues.
FOUR || Put Away Technology
Don’t be distracted when you’re talking and connecting. If you’re in the middle of something or have a deadline, tell him. Just say you’ll be able to talk in 10 minutes but you really need to finish this blog post or whatever it is. Just being honest and explaining why is so much better than giving him only part of your attention.
FIVE || Don’t Assume You Know What He’s Feeling or Thinking
Just like your husband isn’t a mind reader, you aren’t either. No matter how well you know your spouse, you don’t know exactly what’s going on in his head. And even if you’re pretty close, don’t dismiss his complaints thinking you know exactly where he’s coming from. Just listen.
SIX || Make Plans
I’m not just talking about planning trips and dates. I mean communicate your plans for the week. This isn’t a way to check up on each other but a way to remain a team, to be on the same page, and to not leave anything up to guess work. My dad always calls my mom when he’s on the way home from work just so she will know when to expect him. My husband does the same thing.
SEVEN || Put Yourself in His Shoes for a Minute
Yeah you might have done things differently even if you were in his shoes, but just try to see things from his side. You are not always right, trust me.
EIGHT || Listen and ask Questions
If you’re not understanding his side or you can’t fathom why he did what he did, ask him to explain it. Communication is a two way street. Two monologues do not make a dialogue.
NINE || Treat Each Other as Equals
Don’t treat him like you’re his mother. Be careful with your tone of voice. Make requests, not demands. Give compliments and thanks more than negativity.
TEN || Check in Weekly
Ask each other where you are emotionally, physically, spiritual, mentally. Talk about hour highs and lows from the week. Ask how you have been a good spouse that week and how you can do better next week. This would be a good time to talk about your schedules too.
When I look back on any troubles I’ve had in my marriage, I can attribute all of them to communication issues in some way. Communicating effectively is hard but it’s not impossible.