Communication is one of the most important components of a marriage that works well. Good communication in your relationship is also essential to having a healthy, romantic relationship between couples. With good communication, couples can talk through problems before they damage the marriage and repair or avoid hurt feelings that can harm intimacy.
I found a great article called “How to Improve Communication in a Marriage” on Livestrong.com that offers some very good and very practical advice on how we can all improve the way we communicate with each other.
In the article, author Alicia Miller talked with psychologists Helen Hunt and Harville Hendrix, authors of “Getting the Love You Want Workbook: The New Couples’ Study Guide.” Hunt and Hendrix explain that
Improving your communication skills deepens your understanding of your partner’s perspective, helps you become more receptive and improves your overall relationship.”
They then offer several steps to making your communication more effective, constructive and loving.
Step 1: Use “I” Statements
Using the word “I” instead of the word “you” to describe your feelings shows that you accept responsibility for the way you feel rather than placing blame on your partner. For instance, say
I feel neglected when you don’t spend time with me” rather than “You’re neglecting me.”
Step 2: Pay Attention to Nonverbal Communication
This applies to both your nonverbal cues and your partner’s. We often communicate more truthfully with our body language, touch and eye contact than we do with our words. Watch your own nonverbal communication to make sure that you’re not saying one thing with your mouth and another with your stance. Also watch your spouse’s cues for signs that they’re getting frustrated or defensive.
Step 3: Speak in a Calm, Level Voice and Avoid Name calling
This is extremely important to remember when you’re having a disagreement or when you feel like your spouse has let you down or hurt you in some way. However, it can be hard to follow through in the heat of the moment. If you feel like you’re about to break this rule, let your partner know that you’re getting too upset to talk fairly and that you need to take some time to calm down. Make it clear that your goal is to check your own attitude, not theirs.
Step 4:Really Listen to your Spouse
Sometimes we’re so distracted or so busy planning what we’re going to say that we don’t truly listen to each other. As the article says,
According to authors Matthew McKay, Patrick Fanning and Kim Paleg in their book “Couple Skills: Making Your Relationship Work,” making an effort to listen shows him that you are interested in what he says and that you think his feelings are important.”
Step 5: Focus on the Present.
Bringing up old issues just exacerbates hurt feelings and distracts from the subject at hand. When we drag “all things old” into every disagreement, nothing gets resolved.
Improving the communication in our marriages is a work in progress. We get better at it the more we practice and the longer we’re together. The important thing is to remember that you are a team and that you love each other, even when you’re making each other a little crazy.