“Why can’t we just talk about it?” Couples should know: communication is essential in any relationship, but communication is at the core of marriage. Poor, unclear, or sporadic communication in marriage is its own problem, but unhealthy communication also makes it difficult to work on other marital issues like disagreements related to finances, sex, and dealing with in-laws.
Communication Is So Simple, So Why The Communication Breakdown?
Communication occurs when both spouses effectively talk and listen to each other. One spouse says what they are thinking or feeling while the other spouse not only hears but listens. No one feels the need to ramble on. Spouses take turns without interjecting or interrupting. They provide verbal and nonverbal feedback, which lets their spouse know they were heard. Sounds simple enough, right? Why is the breakdown so easy?
What Is And What Should Never Be.
Often, we care more about being right than we care about our spouse or working together to solve the problem at hand. We speak when we should be listening; we hear but don’t really listen. We’re too busy thinking of our comeback. We let things escalate. We don’t feel safe being honest. Soon, it isn’t even communication; it’s a laundry list of past hurts, raw feelings, defensiveness, pride, snark, sarcasm, raised voices, or people withdrawing altogether.
The Song Remains The Same.
How do you break this cycle? We communicate differently. Recognize how you both communicate and change the tune. You may be more assertive at speaking while having trouble listening. Your spouse may be great at listening but have difficulty sharing what they are thinking or feeling. All isn’t lost if you discover you communicate differently. It’s important to remember that communication in marriage is a skill that can grow, develop, and flourish over time. When you find your groove, it can actually build intimacy in your marriage.
Four things couples should know about communication in marriage:
1. Communication is a Process.
No matter how good you get at communicating with your spouse, you will both still occasionally miscommunicate. There will always be good times and bad times sharing. When miscommunication occurs between you, recognize it, acknowledge it, and hit reset. It’s not a big deal or the end of the world. Focus on the process of communicating and building a stronger connection. You’ll both feel less dazed and confused.
2. Communication is a Skill.
We often think communication is easy because we have a mouth and ears. It’s true, however; healthy communication is a skill we learn and can continue to develop.
How we learned to communicate does impact our communication in marriage. What communication patterns were you and your spouse raised with? If a lot of yelling was modeled, it could become a default communication setting. Additionally, one of you may have observed how sharing thoughts and feelings was met with criticism and sarcasm. It might be hard to say, “The way I feel…”
You can learn new ways to communicate and change the patterns that lead to miscommunication and create distance between you and your spouse.
3. Communication Takes Practice.
The average couple spends 20 minutes per week communicating. For some people, that might sound about right. Studies also showed when couples communicated with each other for just five minutes a day, they felt more connected and understood. Understand that for many spouses, communication in marriage is a significant way they seek connection. Your spouse wants to know all about you to bond with you—your day, feelings, dreams, disappointments, and goals. Their communication needs involve quality and quantity—lots of in-depth communication.
Other spouses need together-time to connect. Talking might be optional. They are content to simply be with you and enjoy your company. Being quiet doesn’t mean anything is wrong. They aren’t trying to be distant or avoid conversation. They bond by being together doing an activity.
Neither is right or wrong. Identify your individual marriage communication needs and, if necessary, meet each other halfway. Find things that are “doing” like going for walks, working in the yard, putting a puzzle together, and then add some “talking” to it. Why not both?
4. Communication: A Two-Way Street to a Whole Lotta Love.
Communication is a two-way street. Your marriage can get somewhere if you learn to stay in your lane and respect the posted signs. Fellas, sometimes, you need to stop and yield some time to just listen. Your spouse isn’t looking for any new construction; she just wants to be heard. Ladies, if you take too many forks in the road and don’t observe the posted speed limit, your spouse can’t keep up and will get lost.
All drivers should use “I” statements (I think, I feel, I need). No sharp “You” turns—don’t make your spouse a defensive driver. No parking in past, settled, healed wounds. Do not enter a mindset where your spouse is your adversary. Put your phone away—no distracted driving. (Use caution if there are children at play nearby.) When you’ve reached a dead end, pick up the conversation later.
As you both learn how to safely merge with traffic, you will find your relationship traveling to exciting new destinations. There will be less icy road conditions and dangerous curves ahead. You’ll just enjoy the ride to deeper intimacy.
10 Years Gone…
Invest in some communication tools. MARRIAGE COURSE | 5 Days To Better Communication In Marriage, or The Magic of Communication In Marriage E-book. See where they take you!
Healthy communication in marriage can spur growth and connection. It may take time. Little by little, the levee breaks, and it becomes easier to be transparent and vulnerable. You’re using communication to solve problems together instead of poor or infrequent communication creating problems. Your marriage bond is more robust. You feel free to share thoughts and feelings. You made it a point to improve communication in your marriage, and now you are enjoying the fruits of your labor!
***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear that someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***