Everyone (we hope) agrees that good communication is essential in a marriage. But on the other hand, poor communication can sink a marriage. So many misunderstandings, hurt feelings, resentments and fights can be attributed to a lack of communication in marriage or some very important communication mistakes.
Therapist Erika Krull offers some help in this area, in an article called “Marriage Communication: 3 Common Mistakes and How to Fix Them“.
You can check it out on PsychCentral, but here’s what Krull has to say.
Good communication is the foundation of a strong marriage. Many marriages could be saved if spouses improved the ways they communicate with each other. It’s often the simplest bad habits that get couples into trouble.”
Here are 3 common communication mistakes that Krull sees in her practice. Fixing them could save your marriage from being yet another victim of poor communication.
1. Yelling at each other.
As simplistic as this may sound, curbing the urge to yell at your spouse and not getting yelled at yourself are essential to a happy marriage.
Yelling unleashes lots of strong, negative emotion. No matter what you are trying to communicate at that point, the emotion is going to take center stage. That’s what captures the listener’s attention most. Unfortunately, your spoken message will be diminished or even misunderstood, because you set up your partner to be defensive and frustrated rather than responsive and understanding.”
Krull suggests getting a few minutes or more to yourself in order to calm down, or even going on a quick exercise break before continuing your conversation. This will relive stress, vent anger and help you to approach the issue more calmly and effectively.
2. Having a competitive attitude.
When you’re stressed, it’s easy to forget that you’re supposed to be a team. A little friendly competition between lovers is fine, but be wary of always needing to be the winner when it comes to communication about issues.
You may have to stay ahead of the game in some areas of your life, but your marriage is not one of them. When one person is always the winner, both spouses lose.”
Krull adds that crushing your spouse in a debate can also crush his or her spirit. If you feel the need to come out on top in discussions, Krull suggests considering whether insecurity is making you feel like you need to prove yourself.
3. Making marriage about “Me” instead of “We”
Generosity and considerate behaviors can go a long way toward nurturing a great marriage. Instead of wondering if they’ll ever load the dishwasher right, do something you know your spouse will appreciate. Be forewarned: they may not throw you a ticker-tape parade because you did it. Don’t get caught up in the ‘what’s in it for me’ trap again.”
Krull does offer this encouragement, though: Eventually, your spouse will respond in a positive way to your more positive actions.
No matter what you’re trying to communicate, avoiding these three habits can not only get your point across more effectively, it can build your marriage into a stronger, happier relationship.