Have you ever thought about how poor communication could be affecting your marriage? To be honest, for the first five years of our marriage, I don’t think I really thought much about communication in our marriage because I thought I was a decent communicator… until several “situations” occurred, the biggest of which was the time I expected my husband to read my mind.
I know. I know. It’s not possible, but hey, I was young and we were just getting started. The deal was, we made some pretty hefty purchases one year so I told my husband I didn’t think we should buy each other anything for Christmas. He agreed.
Now, when I made that suggestion, in my mind what I really meant was, you don’t need to get me anything, but it would be nice if you got me a little something. So, you know the rest of the story. Christmas day arrived, I pulled out a little something for him and he looked at me like, “Wait, what?” (Let’s just say my response was not my finest moment.)
My poor communication created a totally unnecessary rift between the two of us.
Can you relate?
There are plenty of ways poor communication has the potential to affect your marriage. Just so I’m not leaving it up to your imagination what poor communication looks like, here are a few examples:
- Holding your spouse accountable for unspoken expectations you have about your relationship.
- Giving your spouse the silent treatment when there is an issue between the two of you.
- Multitasking when your spouse is trying to tell you something.
- Interrupting them, talking over them, or finishing their sentences for them.
- Listening only to respond versus listening to understand.
- Expecting your spouse to read your mind.
★ Let’s flip these and look at how they can impact your marriage.
- When you don’t share relationship expectations with your spouse it almost always leads to disappointment and disconnection, not to mention resentment and bitterness.
- Staying silent when you are upset sets your spouse up to play the guessing game about what is bothering you. This typically leads to wrong assumptions and makes it practically impossible for your relationship to grow.
- If we are being totally honest here, we all know that even if we think we are great multitaskers, it’s impossible to really focus on what someone is saying while we’re doing anything else (unless, of course, you’re taking notes on what they’re saying). When we try to multitask and listen, chances are great we will miss something important they said, a facial expression or the tone of voice they used, which are all important pieces of information.
- Some spouses talk about being able to finish their spouse’s sentences as if it were a sign of “we have finally arrived.” But if you asked the spouse whose sentences are always being finished for them, they probably wouldn’t say they consider this a term of endearment. It doesn’t feel good to have people talk over you, finish your sentence, or interrupt you when you are trying to communicate.
- Too many of us have experienced a spouse who only listens to respond. Meaning, they aren’t really listening to understand the issue at hand. Instead, they are preparing their case in their head for how they will respond when you finally stop talking. When this happens in a relationship, it leads to people shutting down, walking on eggshells, and feeling like the relationship is adversarial versus being on the same team.
- Back to my Christmas story. I expected my spouse to read my mind and know what I was thinking. When that didn’t happen it led to disappointment, frustration, a boatload of unnecessary drama, and me being angry at him when I really should have turned the mirror on myself. Let me just put it out there: nobody can read our minds and they shouldn’t have to. Making our spouse guess what we need is swimming in dangerous relationship waters.
Here’s the deal, nobody’s perfect and anybody can find themselves slipping into poor communication tactics that affect their marriage.
But, if you know what the landmines are, it makes it easier to either avoid them or catch yourself if you start down that road so you can do something different. 🔎 Even if some of these are things you do frequently, you can definitely learn new communication strategies. Pick one to work on this week!
***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 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.***
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