Image: 123rf/Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee
Couples often think they are communicating effectively when in fact, they skip over crucial points and avoid the important conversations. Even more commonly, couples would feel like they are talking about completely different things when they argue, resulting in plenty of frustration and more conflicts.
The ultimate goal of communication? To say things in ways that your partner can understand to resolve conflicts and avoid misunderstandings.
#1 Listen to what your partner is actually saying
Also known as reflective listening, listening to what your partner is saying rather than what you want to hear is one of the key points of effective communication in marriage. What your partner says and what you hear can be entirely different.
So instead of rushing headlong into an argument with your assumptions, you should first listen without interrupting.
When your partner has had the chance to voice their concerns, ask for clarification to avoid misunderstanding by asking, “This is what I heard, is that what you meant?” This conscious effort of listening and clarifying shows that you care and value what they are sharing.
#2 Respect their viewpoints, even if you disagree
No matter how well you get along, it is understood that there will be things you don’t agree on. However, how you express yourselves during such disagreements is crucial to maintaining a happy marriage. If you want your partner to listen to your views, you need to communicate it with respect.
Acknowledge that their opinions are just as valid, even if you won’t change yours. It is likely that your partner will shut down and tune out from the argument if your tone becomes rude and condescending.
#3 Receptive timing is key
Happy couples recognise when the timing to bring something up is off and say instead, “Let me know when’s a good time for us to talk about this.”
Picking an inopportune time and place will sabotage your chance of having an effective time of discussion. For example, starting a discussion about a disagreement after your partner has had a long and tiring day at work is probably going to be a bad timing. The key is to know when your partner is able to be receptive to what you’re saying.
#4 Their opinion is as important as yours
Not only is interrupting rude, it shows that you don’t consider their opinions to be as important as yours; that you have pre-conceived notions of what they will say, and that you don’t respect them enough to allow them to finish sharing.
Healthy communication involves equal opportunities for both parties to speak. The next time you feel like cutting them off, hold yourself back even if you feel like you know what they’re trying to say.
#5 Don’t come off as accusatory
The last thing you want to do is come across as accusatory to your partner, saying things like “you always…” or “Why do you…”. This will only make them feel attacked and produce a negative outcome from your argument. In place of "u" statements, use “I” statements!
Take for example, “You’re always on your phone instead of helping me out with the chores,” versus “I feel overwhelmed with having to deal with all the chores.” Instead of attacking them, you’ll be explaining how you feel. Statements like, “I feel” or “I am thinking…” will alter the tone and focus of your argument.
#6 Something said in anger will stay in your marriage for years
Inevitably, during the course of your marriage, you’ll feel angry and would want to lash out. However, all it takes is those few seconds to spew an insult and it can stay in your marriage for years.
A marriage is built on love and trust and for you to ruin this foundation in the heat of the moment is simply not worth it. No matter how mad you are, you should not let it get the best of you and the love you have for your partner. Let it pass before allowing yourself to speak.
So, drop this, and other bad relationship habits before getting married!
#7 The past belongs to the past
The fastest way to create resentment? Harping on old issues and misdemeanors when you communicate with your partner. Happy couples live in the present instead of dwelling on past mistakes.
If you find that you can’t stop thinking about a past problem, you’ll need to resolve it proper so that it won’t persistently show up in your future arguments. In order for your marriage to grow, you’ll need to learn from these mistakes so that you can move forward together.