Communication breakdowns are a common issue in many marriages. Some couples struggle with communication more than others do, and this can be due to differences in personality and communication style. However, working to establish clear and effective communication is key to enjoying a happy marriage in the long term.
In order to improve communication in your marriage, there are five realms of communication you must each work to strengthen. Let’s jump right in.
1. Information sharing
Sharing information involves the ability to clearly and accurately state your thoughts and feelings without losing yourself in emotion or getting off track. Being able to articulate your thoughts and feelings in a way that’s easy to understand is a skill some of us have naturally, but many of us must learn. The accurate sharing of information means that we must sometimes slow down and think about how our words are coming across to our spouse.
Evaluate your communication, particularly when you’re conveying information to your spouse. Are you getting all the necessary thoughts out of your head so your spouse has full context? Is it possible you’re assuming they know more than they actually do? Are there details you’re leaving out that would help them better understand your point of view?
When we listen well, that means we’re respectfully paying attention to our spouse’s words and feelings. That way, they know we’re doing our best to understand their point of view. Listening well goes hand in hand with empathy–an essential skill for long-lasting relationships.
Echo your understanding to one another when you communicate to ensure you’re accurately understanding one another. Be honest when you aren’t understanding one another well, so that you can add clarity to the conversation. Misunderstandings lead to further conflict, so it’s crucial that you master this skill as early in your relationship as possible.
3. Conflict management
Conflict management means remaining aware of whatever conflict we’re trying to solve, and knowing what tools to use in order to both defuse the issue and move past it together. In the midst of a misunderstanding or a fight, it can be easy to get defensive and emotional. But reactivity escalates conflict, when what you want to do is make it smaller–not bigger.
Take a pause when you feel yourself becoming defensive or upset. It’s beneficial to take a breath and rethink the situation you’re dealing with. Sometimes, it’s even a good idea to take a break from the disagreement for a little while and come back fresh when you’ve had a moment to clear your heads.
4. Problem solving
Problem solving entails working together to efficiently and effectively reach a desired outcome. Can you put your heads together and figure out what steps to take next? Are your goals clear–with yourselves and one another? Have you found a happy medium you can both agree on?
Take a little time to figure out your shared, desired outcome. Then, work together to agree on the steps you should take to reach that goal. Two heads are better than one, so use teamwork to your advantage to solve the issues that come your way.
5. Skill selection
Skill selection means the ability to effectively determine which communication skills you should utilize at any given time, depending on the situation. Your ability to decide which communication skill you should use in the moment can either help or hinder your communication with your spouse.
For example, there’s an appropriate time to use humor, and an appropriate time to be serious and silent. The skills you each choose to use will determine the tone and outcome of your interactions. Carefully selecting skills for each situation will help you navigate communication issues with greater ease in the long run.
Discover How You Communicate
Getting deeper insights into how you and your spouse communicate will pay dividends over the course of your marriage. Relationship assessments such as SYMBIS+ give married couples a deeper understanding of one another’s personalities, communication styles, and more. Plus, our brand-new SYMBIS+ companion book, Strengthen Your Marriage, goes hand-in-hand with the assessment to help you make your marriage stronger than ever before. Pick up your copy here.
Have you and your spouse mastered communication? What are your secrets? Share your tips with us in the comments section.