The usual ways you and your spouse communicate lead to predictable results; frustration, anger, withdrawing, or fighting. Is it even worth trying to communicate? If “We need to talk” seems to only make things worse, hold the communication! There’s homework you need to do first.
When asked in our recent survey what they would like to be better in their marriage, 70% of people wanted better communication. This was by far the most frequent issue mentioned among several possible choices. And I suspect your marriage could use either a tune-up or perhaps a complete overhaul in this area.
How does your communication normally unfold? Perhaps one of you has a burning issue gathering emotional heat as the minutes, hours, or perhaps even days go by. Finally the temperature becomes so hot that the steam erupts in an outburst of words accompanied by criticism, sarcasm, anger, frustration, or tears.
Even if your spouse suspects something is amiss they feel blindsided by your outburst and respond defensively. You feel unheard, unimportant, misunderstood. The wall between you becomes thicker and higher.
Or it may be the opposite. You don’t want a fight, so you drop a subtle (or not-so-subtle) hint about how you’re feeling or what you want your spouse to do. And the lack of any meaningful response from your spouse again leaves you feeling unheard, unimportant, misunderstood.
Why even try to communicate?
Do Your Homework
Stop! Back up. If your communication style isn’t working step back and do your homework. If you and your spouse are both people of good will, working through these questions yourself before trying to discuss an important issue together will make a huge difference.