One of the keys to a successful marriage is good communication skills. I admit, I’ve always been the queen of horrible communication. I hold grudges, I’m bad at listening, I always have to have the last word, I get heated easily. These aren’t the best traits to have if you want to be able to communicate effectively in your marriage, but I’m working on it. Zack’s actually not a whole lot better at it than I am. He’s a tad better at listening and is a little better at keeping his cool. But overall, we both completely suck at it. Which actually feels good to say because I’ve heard from many friends that our marriage looks pretty “perfect”. But we’re not. Communication is our biggest weakness. Thankfully, we both recognize this and it’s something we’re consistently working on. And we’ve come a long way these last few years. Communicating effectively takes time, patience, and a lot of practice. Luckily there are tons of tips out there that can help you communicate better and save your marriage. Here’s what we’re doing to improve communication in our own marriage:
LEARN HOW TO LISTEN.
You’ll never know how your spouse is feeling if you don’t take the time to listen to them. It’s taken me a while to learn that it’s not always best to have the last word in an argument or to get every single point across. Believe it or not, the world doesn’t actually revolve around you. Your problems and feelings aren’t the only ones that matter, especially in a marriage. So sometimes it’s best to just take a step back and listen to what your spouse has to say. Both of you should have the chance to express how you’re feeling.
Not only do you hear how your partner is feeling, you can also hear what they’re actually saying. And this goes for even basic, everyday situations. For example, when Zack asks me “what’s for dinner?”, I used to hear it as “why haven’t you made dinner yet?” which isn’t what he’s saying at all. He’s simply letting me know he’s hungry and wondering what I’m making, yet this can easily turn into an argument on any given day. This would instantly put me in a mood because it came across as a bit pushy. And I know I’m not the only one out there who misinterprets simple statements like this. Especially after a long, stressful day. So take a moment to really listen to your partner.
CHANGE YOUR PERSPECTIVE.
You need to learn how to look at situations from your spouse’s point of view. How do you think the situation makes them feel? How are they viewing and interpreting the situation? Sometimes an issue that seems small to you, might seem big to them. If you can’t understand where they’re coming from, then politely and calmly ask them to explain it to you in a way that you’ll understand. Understanding their point of view will help you move one step closer to finding a solution to your issue.
EXPRESS YOUR NEEDS AND WANTS CLEARLY.
It’s important to be direct about the things you want and need in your marriage. I admit, I used to be horrible at this one. It was a struggle for me in the start of our marriage. But you can’t always expect your husband to figure everything out on his own. Men typically don’t catch onto your subtle hints and they definitely don’t like having to solve a puzzle to figure out what exactly is wrong. They’d much rather let it go than waste their time trying to figure out your brain. So if something needs be changed then say something about it. If you need something, then be direct and ask for it. Don’t keep all your thoughts, feelings, and opinions to yourself or nothing will ever change.
NEVER TALK DOWN TO YOUR PARTNER.
Your spouse should be your equal. Never talk down to them and make them feel small. Don’t tell them you hate them or make them feel inadequate, unappreciated, and not good enough. Never threaten divorce, even in the heat of the moment. Think before speaking. Your spouse is your teammate. At the end of the day, you and your spouse want the same thing: a strong, successful marriage. You want to be together and make your marriage work. So it’s important to lift them up when they’re feeling down and continue to love them through your arguments. Never forget that you’re on the same team.
LEARN YOUR SPOUSE’S LOVE LANGUAGE.
This is crucial to all relationships. This alone changed our marriage in so many ways. It’s a lifesaver! In short, there are five love languages: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch (you can take the quiz to find out your love language here). Everyone shows love in a different way and sometimes spouses may have different love languages. I recognize love through words of affirmation and physical touch, whereas Zack recognizes it more through acts of service and quality time (although our versions of “quality time” are rather different sometimes).
Taking the time to read the book and take the quiz really opened my eyes to why we weren’t always on the same page in our marriage. Not that our marriage was failing or anything, but we just weren’t connecting sometimes and it really left me feeling exhausted and out of options some days. The moment I started researching the love languages, everything fell right into place. Now, over three years later, we still keep this in mind every single day and are consistently working on it. It’s helped our communication tremendously. So if you’ve never looked into this before, then I suggest you do that this week!
CHANGE YOUR WORDING.
Sometimes all it takes it better wording to get your point across. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. If your spouse isn’t understanding how you’re feeling or what the issue is, then maybe you need to try expressing it in a different way. Rather than saying “I hate it when you ____”, try saying “When you do _____, it makes me feel ______”. This can make a huge difference in your communication.
TALK FACE TO FACE.
Having important conversations through a text message is never a good idea. It can be so easy to misinterpret a text message and have it lead to the next big argument. You can’t hear your spouse’s tone of voice or read their body language. There have been countless times where I’ll misinterpret what Zack says through a text message and turn it into an argument. I’ll think he’s moody or mad at me when he’s really just busy at work and can’t text much. If you’re able to, have the conversation face to face.
What tips do you have for communicating effectively in a relationship?