How To Keep Communication From Ruining Your Marriage
If you ask a married couple what’s the key to keeping their marriage strong, nine times out of ten, they’ll answer, “Communication.” While you might be tired of hearing this age-old answer, effective communication in marriage can indeed result in fewer arguments, more intimacy, and an overall healthier relationship. But on the other hand, poor communication in your marriage can certainly be a recipe for disaster.
Chances are you’re reading this because you have communication breakdowns in your marriage, or maybe you’re just trying to get ahead of the curve. Whatever the case is, here’s a guide to help you keep communication from causing the downfall of your marriage.
Step one: Gain an understanding of your spouse’s communication style.
You and your partner’s communication styles more than likely fall into one of these four main categories: passive, aggressive, passive-aggressive, or assertive. It’s normal to adjust your communication style in different situations, but it’s still helpful to know which category your partner likely falls in.
Sadly, our parents didn’t equip many of us to communicate effectively and assertively, and that’s where a communication breakdown can occur. To avoid this, recognize each other’s style, but then work together to learn how to communicate more assertively and clearly with one another.
Step two: Refrain from being critical, and instead use “I” statements to express your needs and feelings.
When you’re frustrated and upset, it’s easy to point fingers and spew out a string of criticisms. If this sounds like a familiar scenario, then you already know communicating with your spouse this way is useless. Placing blame on your spouse usually results in defensiveness, and at that point, the conversation is lost.
“I” statements allow you to be assertive while still communicating your feelings in a way that gets your point across without making accusations. So, instead of saying, “You’re always on your phone when we’re together, and I hate it,” say, “I feel ignored and dismissed when you’re on your phone during quality time.” Framing your statements this way forces you to acknowledge your feelings and helps your partner become aware of problematic behavior.
Step three: Allow yourselves to cool off before having a complicated conversation.
You’ve probably heard the saying, “You should never go to bed angry at someone,” but there’s nothing wrong with taking space to process and cool off before you confront your spouse. Don’t try to force a conversation upon your partner, but instead give them space and when you’re both ready to have the conversation, have at it. Trying to communicate when you’re both angry or frustrated will likely result in a conversation you’ll regret later.
Miscommunication doesn’t have to rule over your relationship. Learning how to be a better communicator starts with the decision to be better. You and your spouse don’t have to figure this out on your own either. There is no shame in seeking help from a professional, and marital counseling can equip you and your partner with the tools you need to nurture healthy communication in your marriage. If you want the keys to a happy marriage, get in touch with a marriage expert today.