Do you wish you could improve communication with your spouse? Couples sometimes develop interaction patterns that aren’t conducive to sharing real feelings.
If you feel that you and your spouse aren’t communicating as well as you could be, take heart. All it takes is learning and practicing a few simple skills to get your relationship back on track.
Practice these techniques to sharpen your communication skills with your partner:
1. Practice listening. Couples learn interesting and helpful information about each other when they practice remaining quiet, yet attentive.
* Focus on what your partner is saying.
* Show you’re listening through body language and eye contact.
* Don’t worry about saying what’s on your mind, at least not initially.
2. Take turns talking. Remember when you were a child and you played games with your friends? You waited until they were finished before taking your turn. Avoid interrupting your spouse.
* Remain interested in what your partner is saying.
* Trust in the knowledge that your “turn” will come around soon.
3. Determine what your spouse is seeking from the verbal exchange. When a spouse approaches the other to talk, there’s typically a goal. Below are common goals in marital communication.
* He’s asking you to do something, like stop at the store, for example.
* She’s seeking information. Your spouse poses a question. She wants a response.
* Your spouse might simply want to tell you how they feel about something (emotions) or what they think (an opinion).
4. Be respectful when you respond. Because you’re sharing your lives together, having and showing respect through your words and responses is integral to your everyday lives.
5. Observe your spouse’s mood and tone. If you believe your partner is upset, annoyed, irritated or angry, tell them you’re aware of it.
* Say something like: “It looks to me like you’re mad about something” or “You sound upset.” Making such observations demonstrates that you’re paying attention, which is important to healthy relationships.
* At this juncture, you may not need to ask why your partner is annoyed. They’re likely to see you’re tuned in and have noticed their feelings, so they’ll speak more openly about their feelings or frustrations.
6. Strive to be as supportive of your spouse as possible, regardless of their intentions in the exchange. If your spouse asks you to do something, make every effort to complete the task. If they’re seeking information you have, share it. After all, you’re in this relationship together.
* If they’re making a simple request, honor it if you can.
* If you have a good reason to decline, share why. Offer to perform the favor at a time that’s more convenient for you. They’ll see that you’re making every effort to meet them halfway.
7. If your spouse simply seeks to share an opinion, respond openly and with interest. If they’ve raised the subject, they’re most likely interested in hearing what you think, also.
* When your partner is finished, comment on what they said. Examples are, “I never thought of that” or “I haven’t heard about this until now.”
* If your opinion conflicts with his opinion, you have a couple of options. Simply state, “I feel differently about that” and wait to see if he wants to know how you feel. Your other option is to share your opinion in non-threatening words and tone.
* It’s best to avoid showing a great deal of intensity in your voice tone, volume, and word choice if you disagree. Lively discussions tend to turn into arguments when intensity is high.
8. Assume responsibility for ending the communication exchange positively. Here are some examples:
* “I’m glad I could help out” or “Happy to help.”
* If you’re the one asking for something, respond with “Thanks” or “I really appreciate that.”
9. Seek professional help when needed. Consider calling professionals for guidance if applying the above techniques doesn’t improve your communication.
Each day with your spouse you’re given innumerable opportunities to demonstrate love, caring and respect. Sometimes, from the smallest and seemingly most insignificant exchanges, come the greatest demonstrations of shared interests, passion and love. Learning to communicate effectively with your spouse will greatly enhance your relationship.