Communication is the key to a healthy marriage. We have all heard this advice before and may have taken it to heart. But while this sentiment is true at its core, it can be very difficult to understand and take action on. What exactly is good communication, and how do we improve it?
It can be difficult and even frightening to be completely open and honest with your spouse, and though eager, many people don’t really know where to begin.
But, the process of developing your communication skills is absolutely worth it and it is simpler than you might think. Below, we’ve listed three ways you can begin working on your communication skills today. Following these steps will help you become a more open, honest, and eager communicator, and to encourage your spouse to do the same.
Develop your sense of empathy
Being a good communicator is about more than just the way you express yourself. It is important that you encourage your partner to communicate as well and foster an atmosphere of trust. It is not enough to feel this way, it is important to actively encourage your partner to share, to express to them that you understand where they are coming from, and to keep asking questions and listening to develop your understanding of their viewpoint.
If both you and your partner can feel secure in the knowledge that you can safely communicate your perspective, your needs, and your expectations, you will have achieved an important step in developing excellent communication in your marriage.
The longer you are married, the more important this is. In the beginning of your relationship and your marriage you’ve probably been in total awe of each other and we getting along really well even if you didn’t communicate very effectively. The longer you are married, the better you know each other and the more familiar you are with each other, the more important it is to be able to explain what is happening to you and to see what your spouse is going through.
Learn to really hear your partner
Many of us make the mistake of believing we are listening, when in fact we are simply waiting for our turn to speak again. When your partner is striving to explain something, be open and do what may seem obvious: actually listen. We all make assumptions about other people, and really hearing what our partner has to say can provide new insight, even into issues we thought we already understood.
Be open and willing to learn about an alternate point of view, and remember that people may feel differently about things, and that is ok. A fight is not won when you feel proven right: in a marriage, a fight is “won” when the two of you find a way to conquer a problem together. If your partner trusts you enough to be open and honest with you, it is important that you honor that trust by truly coming to understand what they have to say. One of the very useful exercises is to actually repeat back what your partner says to you. The goal of this exercise is to make sure that you both feel understood. Here’s what you can say: “I want to make sure that I understand you correctly. It is my understanding that you… Did I get this right?”
Be clear in expressing your expectations
This may seem like the easiest part of communication, but in fact, it can be quite difficult. Many of us have needs and expectations that are innate because of our experiences and personalities but have never had to speak them aloud. Before you can do a good job expressing your expectations, it is important that you take the time to understand them yourself. This may seem obvious, but many people do not take the time to reflect on what they need and desire, or why.
Once you have truly come to understand your own expectations, it is important that you speak them to your partner. This level of honesty is truly frightening to many people. But, to have true intimacy with your partner, it is important that you give them the opportunity to get to know you better.
In concept, this advice is simple but takes work to truly put into practice.