Would you agree that all couples could stand to improve their communication skills?
Would you also agree that communication is critically important when it comes to improving marriages?
The problem is that couples often struggle with developing this key skill. In fact, studies have shown that poor communication is one of the leading causes of marital failure.
Couples are often poor at communicating about money, their needs from the marriage, how they handle conflict within their marriage, what to eat for supper, what to watch on TV, etc., etc., etc.
Now you may be thinking, “My spouse and I are great communicators.”
I truly hope that’s the case for every person reading this post. However, you’re kidding yourself if you think you and your spouse can’t benefit from improved communication skills.
Hint: Never be satisfied when you can work with your spouse to improve your marriage.
Learning to effectively communicate (like any other skill) is a skill that you must continue to put into practice if you expect to improve.
In our recent post 11 Best Don’ts to Avoid and Unhappy Marriage, we discussed that you should never settle for anything less than your best in your marriage. You must work hard to make sure you are doing whatever it takes to make your marriage successful. Continuing to learn and implement effective communication skills is a must “Do” for your marriage.
Although building a strong and happy marriage can be difficult, this post is going to provide some tips you can use to develop your communication skills and improve your marriage.
Communication Skills to Improve Your Marriage
Seek First to Understand
Have you read Stephen Covey’s book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People?
In this book, Covey discusses in Habit #5 that you must first seek to understand the person who you are attempting to communicate with – then look to be understood.
Often we are thinking about what we are going to say next while the other person is talking. We are not looking to understand them, we are looking to create our counterpoint to what they are saying.
When communicating with your spouse, are you looking understand their point of view or are you formulating your response rather than listening to them?
For your marriage, it is key that you and your spouse work together to seek to understand each other.
Marriages are best when the couple is focused on meeting the needs of the other over their own. This includes trying to understand the other before they themselves are understood.
When your spouse is telling you about their day or trying to tell you something important – what do you do? Do you nod politely and throw in an occasional “yes dear?”
Are you truly listening?
Are you seeking to empathize with them?
The key to intentional listening is that your spouse should always feel that you are listening to them. They need to know that when they are sharing with you, you are focused on what they are feeling and what they have to say.
When your spouse shares with you, do they have your undivided attention?
Work with your spouse to give each other the attention they need and deserve. Work together to become a more intentional listener.
How good are you at non-verbal communication? Do you even know what it means with regards to your spouse? What are some forms of nonverbal communication?
Communicating in a nonverbal manner with you spouse is very important to your marriage.
Nonverbal forms of communicating can range from an “I Love You” note left by the coffee pot to a touch on the arm as they walk by to out-of-character silence during dinner.
It’s important that you and your spouse are able to communicate with each other nonverbally. It’s important that you learn to interpret their nonverbal clues.
In order to do this, you must pay attention to your spouse. You must understand how they interpret love. Do they like small thoughtful gifts? Acts of service? A smile or touch on the arm?
Learn to interpret your spouse’s nonverbal clues.
When speaking to your spouse, always let your words be used to lift them up.
Your words are to never be used to put down or degrade your spouse. Going down this path in your marriage will destroy your communication efforts.
The tone of your voice and the words you use can either build up or break down your spouse. The communication skill you need to master is speaking respectfully to your spouse at all times.
Do you show interest in your spouse?
Do you show interest in their day?
An important part of improving communication in your marriage is getting to know your spouse better. In order to do that, you need to ask them questions. Find out what is important to them.
Find out how they are doing.
Find out about their struggles and their challenges.
I know life is busy, but that’s not an excuse for failing to spend time with your spouse.
This is of particular importance if Quality Time is one of your spouse’s Love Languages.
- Read more about Love Languages in our recent post: Build a Happy Marriage: Learn How Now
Learning to communicate better is a skill that takes some practice. It takes some effort.
I order to get better at it, you must make the time to sit down with your spouse and get to know them.
Be Direct with each other
Both you and your spouse have needs from your marriage. One of the purposes of marriage is to meet the needs for companionship, intimacy, etc.
A key communication skill for your marriage is learning to be open and honest with your spouse. You need to be able to let your spouse know your needs.
Remaining silent and hoping they will learn to read you mind will only lead to disappointment. It’s not fair to put your spouse and your marriage in a position of having to guess what you need from the relationship.
While it’s true that you and your spouse need to be students of each other, you both must know each other well enough that you can discuss your respective needs openly. That is where being a student of your spouse comes into play.
Effective communication with your spouse may not come easy and sometimes may not flow naturally. But, you have to keep working at it.
Those in happy and healthy marriages work diligently at improving their communication skills.
Until next time,
Steve and Anne