Communication is paramount in any relationship, but especially in marriage. If you’re striving for lifelong love with your spouse, then the two of you will have to master the art of effective communication. You can come out on the other side of almost any marital problem if you have mastered the skills for effective communication.
While we communicate at different levels, it’s most important to communicate from the standpoint of protecting and nurturing one another’s feelings. If you’re ready to level up your communication with your spouse, read on.
Create a sense of emotional safety.
Emotional safety is critical for effective, clear communication between you and your spouse. When the two of you feel emotionally safe, your communication and problem solving will be so much stronger. If necessary, sit down to discuss your sense of safety with one another. Find out how each of you feel, and what you might be able to do to create a greater sense of security so that you can both be vulnerable.
If you’ve had an emotionally unsafe dynamic in your relationship, you may need to seek out professional counseling in order to nurture a safer environment. It can be difficult to stop toxic or damaging behaviors without help, so don’t hesitate to reach out to a trusted, licensed therapist to get the support you need.
Listen and respond empathically.
Visualize yourself in your spouse’s shoes when you communicate. How might they feel about the situation you’re discussing? What are their needs in the moment? How do the things you say affect them? Where are they coming from?
Understanding your spouse’s point of view will help you pause and thoughtfully consider what they’re saying. When we communicate–particularly when we’re fighting or trying to solve a problem–things can get emotional quickly. But strong emotions can get in the way of stopping long enough to empathize, so take a little time to see things through your spouse’s eyes.
Encourage one another to be honest and vulnerable.
We believe most couples want authenticity in their relationships, because that breeds empathy. They just may not know how to go about achieving it. And, you can’t be truly authentic without an existing sense of vulnerability. Emotional safety and empathy open the door for honesty and vulnerability–some of the most foundational building blocks for a healthy marriage.
Ask for advice.
Once you’ve mastered emotional safety, empathy, honesty, and vulnerability, seek one another out for advice. Asking your partner for advice and help when needed can cultivate a deeper sense of trust and respect. When motivated by a true sense of admiration for one another, asking each other for advice can help you both to feel valued. It’s a great way to show your spouse that you trust their knowledge and insight.
Stay in touch with your sense of humor.
Humor can lighten the heaviest burdens in communication. You can break up a difficult conversation with humor, resetting the tone of your discussion and helping you both get refocused on what really matters: each other. Allow for lightheartedness in your interactions wherever possible, and use it as a buoy when waters get rough.
Communication has three levels.
Authors Robert and Rosemary Barnes identified three ascending communication levels that occur in any given relationship. Want to know at which level you and your spouse communicate most often? Check out our book, Love Talk, to learn more. You can pick up a couples kit here.
Do you and your spouse enjoy effective communication? Why or why not? Leave us a comment and share your experiences.
Thanks for all you work on behalf of couples.
Dr. Leo Christian
Very simple and practical advice to help in communicating with our special friends. Thanks for such timely words.