Communication is key to a successful marriage. This likely isn’t a surprise, but it bears repeating. You and your spouse may share a life together, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re communicating effectively.
Issues with communication often translate into other problems, such as a loss of intimacy. Many couples have stronger communication in the early days of their relationships, through dating and the honeymoon period. But ongoing, strong communication requires a consistent effort from both spouses, through all seasons of life.
Being able to talk to and understand one another is one of the primary components of intimacy. If you put communication on the backburner, you will find yourselves growing apart and experiencing more frequent miscommunication, misunderstandings, and a possible rise in conflict. If communication becomes complicated, painful, or ceases altogether, your intimacy and happiness will suffer.
In today’s post, we’re going to share five ingredients to stronger communication that you can incorporate into your marriage, starting right now. Let’s find out what they are.
1. A Strong Grasp on Empathy
We talk about empathy often, but the need for spouses to empathize with each other can’t be overstated. Empathy is one of the most important aspects of a loving and supportive marriage.
For you and your spouse to be able to communicate effectively, you’ll need to be able to empathize with one another. Putting yourselves in each other’s shoes is especially important to overcoming hurdles in clarity and understanding.
You don’t only need to take a walk in your spouse’s shoes when there’s a conflict. Even seemingly mundane, daily interactions can benefit from seeing their point of view. When you consider your spouse’s needs and preferences as a general rule in your communication, that will help you work together to build a more harmonious, communicative marriage.
2. Excellent Listening Skills
Both of you will need excellent listening skills if you want to improve your communication. One of the most difficult things to do is not only to hear your spouse out–especially when they need to say something that’s hard to hear–but also to listen without following the urge to react or respond right away. We advise couples to work out strategies for allowing one another to speak.
Engage in active listening, during which you listen to your spouse’s concerns, and then reflect back to them what you’ve understood. This gives them the opportunity to clarify what they meant to say if you’re not understanding them well. It also helps them to feel heard and understood, and as though they have your full attention.
3. Keep Emotions in Check
Emotions are strong, and sometimes they can be very difficult to handle. This is especially true if you’re in the midst of conflict.
Letting your emotions run high can muddy the waters of good communication, leading to more complicated conflict. That means resolving issues might take longer than they would have otherwise, especially if you’re layering on insult and injury.
We recommend keeping your emotional responses and your tone in check as much as possible. It’s important that we work together to keep our communications peaceful, even when we’re angry with one another. Allowing our emotions to run away puts us at risk of causing more harm in the long run.
4. Take Breaks
You don’t have to solve every conflict or miscommunication in one fell swoop. Sometimes, good communication and effective conflict resolution require taking a pause. Pausing during conflict or to ensure better communication can help you not only regulate your emotional responses, but it can also keep the situation from escalating.
Put your heads together when you’re in a peaceful state and talk about how you would like to handle taking a pause to regroup during conflict. Stepping away from a complicated issue, heated discussion, a fight, or even a long-term issue that you’re working on solving together can make all the difference. Pausing can give you both the clarity you need when you come back together.
5. Make Time to Communicate
If you don’t make time for good communication, good communication cannot happen in your marriage. Speaking, listening to, and understanding one another require enough time to do so. That means that if the two of you have been swept away by your schedule and all the obligations of life, you need to come together and find ways to take back your time.
You can’t implement the tips in this article without the time to do so. It’s very common for married couples to lead hectic, busy lives. But we challenge you to figure out how to make the time to do the work and get back to a healthy place. Our book, Your Time-Starved Marriage, will help you work together to protect your one-on-one time–and ultimately, your communication. You can grab a copy of the book, along with his-and-hers workbooks, here.
Have you learned any important communication skills over the course of your marriage? Feel free to share them with us in the comments.