No one says marriage is easy, it takes work. However, why should marriage not be easy? After all, it is the union of two persons who love each other. Conflicts inevitably arise when the same two persons have expectations of each other, are not perfect and have to (literally) live with each other. Thus, there is a focus on better communicating needs, wants, disappointments and desires but is there a right or wrong way to go about doing so?
This article explores the top 5 ways to build better communication, many of which have little to do with actual talking!
1. Talk May Not Be Your First Option
There is much talk about how to actually talk. However, this may not be the first nor best step to take. Men and women deal with issues differently and while women generally prefer to talk about it, men may prefer to take a step back. Talking which could easily turn into criticizing or nagging stresses the husband and does not help in making the marriage closer. As such, ask yourself first ‘Is this a good time to talk?’, ‘Does this require talking through?’ and ‘Is there another way to get the message across?’
2. Work on Connectedness and Love instead
Working on being more connected to each other is increasingly deemed to be more effective than talking. This is because a stronger bond increases security for both husband and wife, leading to the husband being more open to talk and the wife feeling less of a need to talk. This closes the ‘communication gap’ where the husband finds the wife always wanting to sit him down for a talk and the wife finds the husband always clamming up.
3. Find Your Spouse’s Love Language
We all have different ways of showing and receiving love. Couples can take a short questionnaire on ‘love language’ and find out each other’s preference, for instance, some like physical intimacy, others acts of love (like helping with chores, kids and dinner) while others prefer being told ‘I love you’. Let your spouse know your preference and also be a role model – find out his/hers and intentionally work on showing love.
4. Look on the Good Side
If you are looking at the spot in your spouse’s eye, you will not notice the plank in your own. See the good side of your spouse, praise and express gratitude to him/her. If you are spending time to see your spouse’s good side, chances are you have less to see the negative side.
5. If Talking, be Smart about It
Would you ask your boss for a raise on a day the firm lost a major client? Obviously not. Your spouse is as ‘human’ as your boss and someone you have to live with your own life. Bad communication adds up overtime, so here are
5 tips to note if you’re talking:
a. Choose the right time – Do not accuse, berate or criticize your spouse at his/her first foot in the house. Show an act of love first, pause and assess if it is the right time before launching into a talk.
b. Choose the right volume – Yelling is a no-no, in fact for some men, talking a bit louder than your normal tone may sound accusatory to them, so note that volume.
c. Choose ‘us’ over ‘me’ – Whatever you want to say, it should be towards a better ‘us’ and not just better for ‘me’. Consider your spouse’s view point before launching into why something should be done your way.
d. Choose to listen – Listening is a skill, requiring patience and love. If you are always listening to your spouse, it is so much more likely that when you have something to talk, you have a listening ear.
e. Choose the final outcome, not final word – The outcome of the talk should be bringing both parties closer; having the last word of a conversation is not the goal of a talk!
Marriage can be strained with the addition of children to care for. Fight for your marriage, spend time (date nights) and treasure your spouse.