Even though every relationship has its own strengths and weakness, there are many couples would rank “communication” as a major weakness in their marriage.
Some couples might engage in heated conversations that involve cursing, yelling, and degrading comments while others might give each other the silent treatment. In both instances, the couples are “communicating” but they are not communicating effectively or in the best interest of the relationship.
Conversation is an invitation into someone’s world and a chance to build intimacy in the relationship. So how can we communicate more effectively with our spouse?
This is the first and most critical aspect of a good relationship and good communication. Humility in communication looks like giving your spouse the “benefit of the doubt” that they are trying to hear you, care for you, and respond to you the best way they know-how.
If each person in the relationship humbles themselves to believe that maybe they could improve their communication and that their spouse is not looking for bad intentions in their communication, a lot of ground can be gained by changing our own attitudes.
Engage In Active Listening
In active listening, the person is listening for meaning and feeling and not just content. The listener is not just waiting to respond, but takes on the mindset of “my only job is to hear, understand, and determine how you are feeling and the meaning behind what you are telling me”.
In its most basic form, active listening involves eye contact, listening for inflection in the conversation, and reflecting some basic feelings or words the person is saying to show you are listening. Before responding, summarize what you hear your spouse telling you.
For example, after a hard day, you might summarize and reflect “wow, so your boss yelled at you and you felt frustrated and anxious”. This gives your spouse the opportunity to correct you if you did not get their feeling or meaning correct and shows that not only did you hear their story but you can empathize with them.
Remember: content is only one part. It will be much less effective if you respond by saying “so your boss yelled at you?” It might feel weird at first, but it will do wonders for your relationship.
Set aside uninterrupted time to talk
We all live busy, digital lives but setting aside time each day (or every couple of days if we’re honest), to sit with our spouse and just talk about something meaningful, hopes, dreams, feelings, insecurities, or disappointments is crucial.
In a world where we can text our spouse all day and not have any intimacy or depth in the communication, it is so vital to make eye contact without screens and engage with one another.
If you need help, start by asking a good open-ended question, like…
“What do you like best about our relationship right now?”
“Is there anything you wish was different about our marriage?”
“What is a way I can support you and show you love right now in a meaningful way?”
“Are you struggling with or dreading anything right now?”
The idea is to move beyond the surface-level conversation. Try to connect with your spouse’s thoughts and feelings.
Find time to be with your spouse and do something you enjoy. This will help improve communication and your desire to be with one another. Make time for one another and laugh together! Sometimes, good memories and laughing together really is the best medicine.