Lack of Communication Affecting Your Marriage?
Ah, to be in love, nothing surpasses that feeling. You feel like you’re walking on air and nothing can ever go wrong. Then the day comes when you have your first argument. You use words to hurt each other or to tear each other down. After the argument, you feel like you’re married to the wrong person or you’re doomed to a loveless marriage. You’re tempted to ignore your spouse or to punish them in some way. But if you want your marriage to last, you must never stop communicating. Communication is the glue that holds marriages together. Without it, even the happiest of marriages can fail.
Most people have the misconception that communicating is simply talking. If you’re talking about general, everyday topics (“How was work?” “Did you call your mum?”), this isn’t really communicating. Communication means talking about the important stuff. It goes beyond the superficial.
How to Communicate Better
A marriage is comprised of two human beings with different histories, experiences, and expectations. The two also have different communication skills. But since better communication is a skill, it can be learned. Here’s how to communicate better.
Listening is easier said than done. When you’re discussing or arguing about something with your spouse, it’s hard to stay silent and just listen. Most of us fear not being heard and rush to speak. Interestingly, this is the main reason why we are not heard.
You may be silent while your significant other speaks but not really hear what they are saying. Ever wondered why therapists rephrase what patients tell them? It’s because they really want to hear what’s being said. The technique helps the mind to slow down a bit and try to hear what the other person is saying. If you find it difficult to hear what your spouse is saying, try this procedure. However, don’t overdo it or do it in a mocking tone.
Here is an example, your partner says “I can’t stand when you don’t take the trash out. It is so rude and implies you’re too good to do the housework.” At this point, you have an opportunity to say something like, “What I think I’m hearing you say is that you’re really upset that I’m not taking the trash out.”
The aggression or attack about you being too good to do the housework need not be addressed at this moment. A statement like that is usually based on anger and frustration and when the other person gets down to it he or she does not really feel that way.
When you are feeding back to someone do your best to use words that they have used or use words that state what you experienced or what you feel your hearing so they can clarify exactly what they meant.
In this case, your partner may respond with something like “You’re darn right I’m upset.” You may respond with something like, “I’m sorry that me taking the trash out has created such upset for you. This has nothing to do with you. I have not made it a big enough priority with my overwhelming work schedule lately. I will make a point of taking care of this task on the day before the trash man comes and to be sure that I don’t forget, I will set an alarm on my phone. How does that feel?”
Usually, a response like this will diffuse the experience immediately. Most people just want to be heard and secondly they’re looking for resolution that will help them feel comforted.
In some instances the solution may not be as easy as this and that is the time that you continue to speak back and forth with each other cleanly and clearly until a solution that is amenable for both of you occurs.
Honesty is the Best Policy
Some people have never opened up to others in their entire lives. Being in a relationship is all about opening up your life and yourself. Never lie to your partner or hide your emotions. Don’t pretend that everything is ok when it isn’t. And don’t even try to think about the silent treatment. While these methods may have worked in the past, they will hinder effective communication. Talk about things you have never talked about with another soul and be vulnerable. You will make your relationship all it can be.
Pay Heed to Nonverbal Signals
Nonverbal communication refers to body language, eye contact, tone of voice, and many other things. In order to communicate better, you must know how to read these signals. While it takes patience and time, you’ll be more attuned to what your partner is saying every time you have a conversation. Nonverbal signals include.
- Lack of eye contact which means someone isn’t interested in what you’re saying, finds it hard to talk about something, or is embarrassed or fearful about something.
- Folded arms which indicate a person is feeling defensive. Crossed legs is another closed indicator.
- A loud, aggressive tone which means that the person feels like they are not being heard or understood. This usually also indicates fear and is used as a defensive technique.
As you learn your spouse’s nonverbal signals, be conscious of your own. Always maintain eye contact, sit next to them, keep your voice at a normal decibel and keep a neutral body stance.
At times, discussions quickly escalate into arguments about other things. Respect your partner and the relationship and focus on the topic at hand. If you are arguing about whose turn it is to do the dishes, concentrate on that topic.
Don’t start arguing about who does what in the house. Arguments that veer off grow bigger and bigger. When you notice that an argument is digressing, de-escalate it. Say something like “Let’s sleep on it and talk about it in the morning when we’re both fresh.”
It is very important to not bring up the past when you are having a discussion about anything that is going to be challenging for either of you. It is a sure-fire way to have the conversation degenerate into a ‘he said, she said,’ one upmanship or point for point argument. These never ever have a positive outcome.
Men and Women Communicate Differently
Men and women have very different perspectives. Men think more than they feel and don’t know what they are feeling most of the time. Women, on the other hand, think and feel at the same time. Here are some ways men and women communicate differently.
Women communicate to discover how they are feeling or to know what they want to say. They see conversation as an opportunity to enhance intimacy. Through communication, they strengthen their bond with their partners and let go of negative feelings.
Many times a woman will seemingly make no sense when she is speaking. From a man’s viewpoint she may be appearing to go around and around going nowhere with the conversation that makes any sense. And then all of a sudden she will say, “Oh that’s great, I got it! I know exactly what to do. Thanks so much for listening and all of your help!” The man may have said nothing at all (probably because he could not get a word in edgewise).
The man will most likely look bewildered and shake his head as he watches her skip joyfully away.
Men prioritize efficiency and productivity even in conversations. When communicating, they only share the important details. They often wonder “Why do women talk so much?” Oftentimes, they interrupt women once they’ve heard enough to offer a solution.
Women use communication to organize and explore their thoughts. They may not know what information is needed until the words come out. They don’t necessarily search for solutions when they start conversations. At times, they just want men to listen and understand what they are feeling.
A man listens actively. When his spouse starts a conversation, he assumes she wants his assistance or advice. He listens attentively, all the time thinking “What can we do about this?” He finds it hard to listen passively or patiently.
A woman considers a conversation a productive end in itself. She may not take further action if she feels sufficiently heard and understood. When she knows her partner has listened to her, her anxieties and negative feelings go away. Communicating heals her from inside and equips her with the emotional tools she needs to handle the outside world.
When Feeling Low
When a man is feeling down, he becomes quiet and withdrawn. He reads a newspaper, watches TV, or plays video games to reduce stress and forget about his problems. During this period, he may avoid communicating with his wife. If she criticizes him or asks many questions, he may withdraw even further, thinking that she doesn’t trust him to handle his issues on his own. But with her support and understanding, he can become more emotionally available.
When a woman is upset, she uses words to express and explore her difficult emotions. Through communication, she can process her negative emotions and let go of them. She values her partner’s support and feels loved when he shows interest in her or expresses heartfelt concerns.
When a man notices that his woman is feeling down, he tries to tackle her problems as quickly as possible. He offers solutions in order to try and change her mood.
How to Save Your Marriage by Communicating
“How to save my marriage” is one of the most asked questions on Google. But this is not what people should be searching for, they should search for ways to improve communication in their marriages.
Communication can make or break a relationship. If you do not communicate effectively in your relationship, you will experience anger, frustration, and resentment. Here are 4 tips on how to save a marriage through communication.
- Never Attack – Attacks always start with “You” statements. “You never,” “You always,” “You are.” To avoid attacking your spouse, use “I” to express your feelings. “You” statements place blame and mostly provoke defensive responses while “I” statements take responsibility for actions and feelings. All marriages pass through rough patches but it’s the partners who fight fair who make it through those times.
- Practice Kindness – Every marriage depends on kindness. So, why do married people lash out at each other? Because when you spend a lot of time with someone, you grow very comfortable, sometimes to the point of losing common courtesy. You become very polite to strangers but very rude to them. Your partner deserves the kindest comments, not the harshest. When you are unkind, messages become distorted and communication is ruined.
- Remember That Your Spouse is Not a Mind Reader – Some people expect their spouses to become mind readers in order to prove their love and devotion. This is an expectation that leads to major problems. If you expect your significant other to read your mind and fulfill your needs without error, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Instead of hinting about problems, tell your spouse exactly what you want. In addition, listen to their ideas.
- Clarify Your Needs – Unless you tell your partner what your needs are, you will not be able to get what you want from them. Tell them what bothers you, what you want done differently, and what you don’t like. Don’t assume that your partner will fulfill your needs without being told, you only delude yourself. Only mothers can anticipate the needs of their infant children without them asking.
Speak openly, directly and clearly and ask for feedback to be sure that they heard what it is you were communicating.
How to Communicate Effectively with Your Spouse
Effective communication does not happen overnight, it is a daily choice. Learn to understand your spouse and their emotional language and do not try to force your own thoughts and opinions. When you listen to them, they will be more willing to listen to you. Good communication is an integral part of a healthy relationship. No matter how effectively you communicate with your friends, colleagues, and neighbors, you must adhere to different rules when communicating with your better half.
Author: Esateys Stuchiner
Esateys (pronounced Ee sáh teez) is an International Life Transformational Speaker, Author, Master Facilitator, Life Coach and Expert in the Human condition. She is a Nationally and Board Certified Nurse Practitioner. For over 30 years, she has practiced, taught and lectured extensively in the allopathic and alternative medicine field.
Esateys is known for her groundbreaking work in the areas of personal empowerment and health restoration using mindset and inner connection as the catalyst for all change.
Esateys describes herself as the ‘Architect of the New You’ and has dedicated her life and professional career to helping her clients create “New Beginnings” by facilitating self empowerment, economic freedom and restored health.
For more information, go to esateys.com.