Communication in Marriage
Learning to have effective communication in marriage is one of the most important aspects of marriage that a couple can work on. This article will provide several practical suggestions for improving communication in marriage.
Before anything else, it is important to dispel the myth that your husband or wife should always now what you are thinking. This attitude can be stated as "if you don't already know what the problem is, you don't deserve to know." This is wrong! As obvious as a problem may seem it is unfair and impossible to expect a spouse to be able to always tell what the problem is. This attitude focuses on the wrong issue - trying to get your partner to guess the problem in stead of trying to find a solution. Instead we should be direct and open in our communication, allowing our time and energies to be spent on resolving the problem.
The following are several suggestions are simply strategies to help improve marriage communication.
- Establish a time to talk - One of the most difficult problems when a couple is very busy is finding the time to talk. Communication takes a significant amount of time. By scheduling a weekly "planning meeting" you can make sure that at least once a week each person has the opportunity to express their concerns and frustrations (make sure you talk about good things too!)
- Listen more carefully than you think you need to - before moving on to discussing a solution, make sure you really understand what your partner is saying. Many times the greatest stress with communication in marriage simply comes from the feeling that you are not being heard.
- Focus on principles not positions - effective communication occurs when we learn to focus on common principles instead of differences in position. Usually we focus an argument on opposing positions ("you don't think my cooking is as good as yours" or "you think Chris' bedtime should be at 7:00 and I think it should be at 8:00"). Instead if we can focus on the underlying principles of the issue at hand (such as being healthy or making sure your children are well rested) they are almost always the same for both people. Simply recognizing shared principles makes negotiating a solution easier because you feel like you are both on the same team. In this case you can look for win-win situations where both people feel like they are satisfied with the solution.
- Pray - in addition to receiving divine assistance, the simple, humbling act of asking for help from the Lord softens hearts and makes communication easier. Pray together as a couple and ask that you be inspired to find creative solutions to the issues at hand.
As you work to improve your communication in marriage, you will find strategies of your own. It may help to write them down so you have some additional ideas for conflict resolution in the future. Regardless of what strategies or ideas you use to improve communication it is always better to address problems through communication then to bury them thinking that they will go away eventually - they won't! Talk it out in a way that is supportive and loving whenever necessary.
Finally, research on appreciative inquiry has shown the importance of positive communication. Researchers suggest that if there is less than a five to one ratio of positive communication to negative communication in marriage you are in a dangerous area. Keep a mental tally throughout the day of your comments to your spouse (not the other way around). If you find that you are saying less than five positive or uplifting things to every negative or critical thing, change this habit immediately. You will be amazed how quickly things begin to change in your marriage just from this one principle.