Let me discuss some of the important aspects about communications in a marriage. There are three things: Be open and honest, be timely, don’t judge. Before we get into those aspects, let’s first talk about communications in general.
What should you talk to your spouse about? You should be able to talk to your spouse about anything. Talking about things openly will help to relieve some of the stress that may exist because of something you are going through or having a problem with. Talking about it will help clear the air and help lead to a solution or relief. Tell your spouse what you think or are feeling about something he or she does, something that is affecting you on your job, how you are responding to things going on in your life together, etc. The important thing is to talk to each other and get to know each other.
My wife and I talk about many things. We talk about vacations, goals, vision for the future, church, and much more. At least once a year, I would start a discussion on what I am thinking about with regards to the relationship. Unfortunately, I was communicating for many years in a manner that my wife perceived as attacking her or judging her. I suppose my analytical mind and pragmatic disposition don’t go well when communicating with others. I am naturally a problem solver and the first thing I want to do is solve the problems in the relationship. To do that, I have to identify what I think the problems are, at least for me. You have to skate on thin ice, so to speak, when communicating what you feel are problems or issues that you are having in the relationship.
Arguing does not count as communicating. Yes. You will have disagreements with your spouse and you may from time to time argue about something as you get emotionally energized. Do not consider the messages relayed in a “fight” as communicating with your spouse. For one thing, we tend not to objectively listen to one another when we are arguing about something. So wait until after the argument and makeup sex to lovingly relay what concerns you. You have to find a way to communicate the issues in the relationship because if you do not, then those things will build up and spawn the seeds of resentment. Once resentment is germinated, then a whole new level of problems will emerge. So once again. Arguing does not count as communicating with your spouse.
I said earlier that you should talk about anything. That is true. However, be careful not to talk about one thing repeatedly. Also, try not to open discussions about the same thing over and over without giving your spouse an opportunity to discuss something that is on his or her mind. A man that constantly and consistently talks about the happenings on his job, will not only bore his wife, but also make her feel that what she wants to discuss is not important. Likewise, constantly and consistently talking about the children could cause your spouse to begin thinking that all you care about are the kids and not him or the relationship.
You are going to talk about the children. You are going to talk about finances, home maintenance, insurance, etc. However, don’t let discussions of duty overshadow the fact that you need to talk to each other about each other. Make it a priority to get to know your spouse through conversation in addition to observation. Discuss his or her inner passions, fears, concerns, happiness, etc. A relationship can be strengthened if the husband and wife are into each other and edifies one another. Conversation is one way to get a huge amount of information to that end.
Now let’s talk about the aspects of communication with your spouse. Here are the things we will now discuss.
- Be open and honest
- Be timely
- Make it safe: Don’t judge or accuse. No blame game.
Be Open and Honest
A husband and wife should be able to talk to each other about anything. They should feel save to discuss their heart to the other. Keeping secrets will only give opportunity for seeds of resentment to germinate and grow. Be honest with your spouse. Tell him or her what you really feel or think. It is so easy to lie because we don’t want to hurt the other’s feelings, or we don’t want to risk being too vulnerable. If your relationship isn’t to the point where you can be completely open and honest, then work towards that goal. You really need to be open and honest with each other.
Give your spouse the benefit of the doubt as he or she talks to you. It is very easy for us humans to take things personally and respond emotionally. That will only exacerbate any issues that are being put on the table so to speak. In most cases, your spouse is not trying to hurt you, but rather is trying to relay important information about something he or she is feeling or experiencing. It may indeed hurt your feelings that he or she feels a certain way. However, the fact that he or she is talking to you about it openly means that your spouse cares and wants it to be resolved. Sometimes, you can’t get better unless you are told or forced to admit that there is a problem. Sometimes it is just a misunderstanding or misinterpretation. Talking about it will help to resolve those types of things too.
Don’t wait until years later to tell your spouse that you don’t like something or that he or she hurt you. There isn’t much that your spouse will be able to do about that because he or she may not remember and if so, may not remember why he did it. If he hurts you today, then tell him today. Chances are that he wasn’t trying to hurt you and therefore needs to know the proper way to communicate with you. Perhaps he lived in an environment where being candid was encouraged. Perhaps she lived in an environment where you spoke your mind. Your spouse needs to know how you perceive things so that a protocol of communications can be used.
Another problem with waiting is that resentment often time arises. When we are offended by someone then we tend to resent that person because of the offense. In some cases, the person doesn’t know that you were offended. Perhaps he or she was joking in a manner that you are not familiar with. Perhaps he spoke from emotions and really shouldn’t have said what he said but didn’t think it was a big deal. If resentment germinates and grows then you will start doing things from that resentment and your spouse will respond to it (and that response will not be positive). His response will only feed your resentment causing more responses from your spouse. This circle can continue until the relationship is dead.
We have to learn to forgive one another. The road to forgiveness starts with the act of your will that leads to communications with the offender. Jesus told us that if we are offended by someone, that we should go to that person and tell them (See Matthew 18:15). Likewise, if you perceive that your spouse is offended then go to him or her immediately to resolve the issue (See Matthew 5:23-24).
Something that I discovered some time ago is that waiting years to bring up a matter to your spouse may have a very significant problem. The spouse you are talking to may be a completely different person than at the time of the “event.” He or she may have been told by someone else that he or she has a problem in an area and begins his or her own journey to “fix” that problem. He or she may have made significant progress only for you to come along and bring up something that happened before his “conversion” so to speak. That produces a very precarious situation for your spouse and jeopardizes his progress in that area by bringing him or her back to the past.
Keep it Safe For Your Spouse
One of the worse things that you can do to your spouse is to judge him, blame her, or otherwise teach him or her that talking to you is not safe. No one wants to be blamed for something. No one wants to be judged unfavorably. So don’t allow those things to creep into the marriage relationship.
Yes. There are going to be times when the husband and the wife will make bad decision that could sometimes have serious consequences. Blaming your spouse for the situation will not help it to be resolved. It will surely make your spouse feel worse than he or she already feels or cause him or her to become defensive. In either case, a solution is not forthcoming on those paths.
It is easy to blame the spouse for the condition of the relationship. You might be thinking or even say something like, “I would be happy if you hadn’t done _______.” You may blame your spouse for how the children turned out. You may blame your spouse for opportunities you didn’t capitalize on. Regardless, blaming your spouse (or anyone) will not make things better. Yesterday is gone, but tomorrow can be a bright sunny day. Don’t focus on yesterday. Strive for tomorrow.
If you constantly blame your spouse or judge your spouse, then your spouse will surely not want to talk to you. I should also say that it is the responsibility of the one being blamed to speak up and say that you don’t like being blamed and how you feel about it. Don’t blame or judge your spouse. It is counter-productive and will cause a chasm to form in the relationship that will be very hard to fill.
Avoid emotional responses and outbursts. Emotions are the bane of a relationship sometimes. When we respond emotionally to what we are told, we usually are not using the power of thought, but rather of feelings. Having your feelings hurt is not always an indication of reality. Your feelings may have been hurt because you misunderstood what you were told. Your feelings may have been hurt because you didn’t want to admit that your spouse was telling you the truth. In any case, do not respond emotionally wo your spouse. It too is counter-productive.
Communicate with your spouse in a manner that promotes a healthy relationship. Be open and honest. Don’t make your spouse believe that all is well when in fact something is really bothering you about the relationship, the household, the job, etc. You will be vulnerable, but I would say that the relationship is worth it. Be timely with your communications. Don’t talk to your spouse about something that happened months or years ago. They may not have the complete memory of that event (feelings, disposition, temperament, things going on at the time, etc.). The sooner you discuss an issue the better. You may wait to ensure that your approach is not emotional and that it is “in love.” Just don’t wait months and years to say something. You could be talking to a completely different person if you do.
Don’t play the blame game or act as if you are the judge. The husband is not superior to his wife and does not have the right to blame her for things and judge her as if he is God. The wife should avoid blaming the husband for things and judging him. These will only hurt the relationship because humans typically do not like to be blamed or judged unfavorably.
Talk to one another. Discuss your dreams, passions, desires, etc. Talk about problem areas in the relation and how to resolve them. Of course you should also learn each other’s language and how your spouse interprets things so that your communications could be more precise. Always talk to one another because that will significantly help you build your relationship.