We all need to be amateur psychologists and try to figure out what our partner really wants. For example, when a woman says she isn’t feeling well, it may be her way of saying ‘Could you drop the children in school today?’ Or it may be her way of expressing a need for more attention from her spouse.
To have a successful marriage, both partners need to keep the lines of communication open with one another. They should learn how two communicate effectively. Effective communication means verbalizing needs and listening carefully…… are you doing that with your partner?
Keys to Effective Communication in Marriage
· Accept that all marriages go through stages. Maintaining a healthy marriage is a lifelong process
· Learn how to fight fairly. Happily married couples don’t have to avoid an argument. They know how to handle conflict in healthy ways.
· Be willing to seek help through couple therapy if you find yourselves starting to be defensive, critical or distant from one another. Don’t wait too long to get help.
· Use the tool of dialogue on a daily basis to stay emotionally connected.
Issues to Communicate About Regularly
· Financial issues- Regularly discuss money issues in your relationship. Finances are the number one reason couples divorce.
· Conflict over Chores- This is second only to conflict over money. It is a topic you can’t avoid talking about. Learn to divide household chores especially if you do not have a maid and you are both working… she needs all the assistance she can get from you.
· Sex- A sexy, exciting marriage doesn’t just happen. You need to stay intimate with one another as much as possible and show your love and passion on a daily basis. Regular sex goes a long way in creating a strong bond between couples.
· Your In-laws: They are a part of your marriage whether you like it or not. Discuss how to set boundaries with your in-laws and how to enjoy them when they are around.
Communication may seem easier for newly wedded couples but for those that have been together for quite a while, it may not be the same. For you to have a smooth marriage where you both need to understand each other more, here are things you should do:
Tell your partner what you want
What this means is that you should verbalise your needs. If you want something you should say it. It sounds so obvious but hurt & angry couples come to me for counseling/advice saying ’he should have known’ or ‘she should have realised’. How should he have known? How should she have realized? Did you tell him or her?
Don’t Rely on Intuition
Sometimes we go shopping for groceries without taking along a list of what we want. It sometimes may lead to us buying what we don’t need or forgetting to buy the things we need. In marriage, this attitude may be disastrous. Don’t rely on your intuition. Ask. Don’t rely on his or her intuition. Tell!
For example you may say ‘You knew I did not have money to fuel my car, why didn’t you offer to fill up my tank?’ This type of dialogue leads to tension around the home. Yet it is so simple to say ‘I really don’t have money to fuel my car right now, would you please do that for me?’
The most essential quality for good communication in any relationship and particularly in a marriage is to be a good listener. Ask yourself if you listen attentively when your partner speaks. Are you sure your mind does not wander to your left over work at the office or something more important to you? Do you comprehend clearly what your spouse is saying? If you don’t, do you ask?
Listen to Your Partner
Try practicing listening to your partner for a space of 10minutes without interrupting. Just listen. You’ll be surprised at how much you will learn and when it is your turn, you’ll likewise realize a unique pleasure in being able to express yourself freely and without interruption.
From research, I have learnt that another technique psychologists favour is called Active Listening. The basic style is mirroring back what your partner says…”I hear you saying”.
When listening to your partner, you have to do away with all the many distractions we have now – Telephones, TV, internet, Ipads etc. Hang up the phone, turn off the TV, escape from the web etc. otherwise your spouse feels like second best and when you have something to say, it will also fall on deaf ears.
The importance of effective/good communication in marriage is that we can use it to solidify the unity and oneness that marriage creates. Absence of this, God forbid, can tear it asunder. Treat your spouse as your left hand protecting the right one….. and not an independent limb! If you practice this attitude you will realize how important it is to spend time and energy on improving communication in order to achieve a truly genuine marital bond.
If you are not a good listener, then you cannot expect your spouse to listen to you when it is your turn to speak.
Talk to Your Spouse about Your Challenges, Achievements and Dreams
Let your spouse know what is standing as a challenge to you. If you need them to help you tackle and overcome that challenge; be open. Let them know what it is and how they can come in to help. They are the closest people that should know what you are going through. Also as a partner, if you notice your better half is in a particular mood that suggests something is up with them, don’t just ignore or let it go. Approach them and let them talk about it with you. When you achieve something special in your career, ministry, academics, work etc., let your partner know firsthand. It may be bad for the health of your marriage if they get to hear about it from someone else.
Likewise, share your dreams. If you are yet to live your dream, talk about it with your spouse, let them work hand in hand with you in achieving it. On the other hand, if you have a partner that has never spoken about what they want to become in the future, sit them down and ask how you can help them in doing so. When they eventually share their hopes and aspirations with you, ensure you do your best in helping them achieve it.
Do not Keep Grudges
Lastly, be an open book for your spouse to read. If he/she wrongs you in any way, let them know immediately. Do not keep grudges. It is very unhealthy for your marriage to keep your feelings to yourself. Be fair to both of you; tell your spouse if they intentionally or inadvertently hurt you. Most times you may think your partner intentionally did something just to get back at you for what you have done in the past, however, it may have just happened accidentally even without them knowing. Using this against them in the future may be bad for the happiness in your marriage.
If your spouse hurts you, let them know. If they disappoint you, tell them. If they failed to keep their promises to you and you feel they betrayed you, talk it through with them. Marriage is meant to be enjoyed so don’t let little and meaningless grudges take that away from you.
Remember what I wrote at the beginning of this article…. “Effective Communication means verbalizing needs and listening carefully”. Keep this in mind, verbalise your needs as often as you can, then, be as good a listener as you can be.
Wish you all the best in your marriage!