The communication in your marriage could certainly be healthier. You fight, nag, yell, criticize, or give your spouse the silent treatment. Perhaps you or your spouse sometimes (or often?) slips into verbal abuse. Things shouldn’t be this way. But how do you transform your marriage communication?
Communication is the Number 1 issue couples want to be improved in their marriage. One frustrated wife wrote, “I seem to bicker with my husband, making him feel like I’m against him. He lets the resentment build up until he goes into a blind rage.” That’s no way to live!
Last week we laid out a 3-part framework for experiencing transformation in your marriage. Here’s what that looks like specifically in the area of communication between you.
Begin With You
Yes, your spouse should communicate differently, but you only have control of you. Take responsibility for learning to communicate in a healthier way regardless of what your spouse does or doesn’t do.
Ask yourself some of these questions:
- Listen to yourself with your spouse’s ears. Are you inviting your spouse into a safe connection with you?
- Do you launch into a conversation based on your feelings and sometimes later regret some things you say? Learn to do these things first BEFORE trying to communicate.
- Is your heart open or closed when it comes to your spouse? If it’s closed, do the heart work necessary yourself, with God or another Christian friend, to get to an open heart before trying to communicate further.
- Are you speaking in a language that makes sense to your spouse? Study your spouse and learn how they hear best. Your communication will be more effective.
- Are you making your communication all about you? When you first seek to understand your spouse, communication will go much better. Sometimes that will mean staying engaged when you would rather walk away.
You may need to pray about some of these items. It’s not useful to try to assign a percentage of “blame” to your own lack of communication skills vs. your spouse’s communication issues. But it is important to thoroughly evaluate your role in communication for any aspects you need to improve.
Make sure your communication is as healthy as possible, as much as lies with you.
Give God Space
Berating your spouse when they clam up, misunderstand you, or get upset at the way you communicate will not help. Your spouse is completely responsible for their communication, but you don’t have to make it worse by trying to manipulate or control. (Use wisdom here; if abuse is going on, get some help right away.)
If the way you communicate becomes healthier, your spouse may sense your heart becoming open, and become much more willing to communicate themselves. Pray for your spouse daily, and watch for the opportunities God will give you to reach out to your spouse in ways that will draw them closer to you.
Even if your spouse will not communicate there are things you can do to maintain your sanity and keep the possibility of connection open. You can follow God’s example of communication with us in how you communicate with your spouse.
Celebrate Each Step Forward
When your spouse responds positively to some communication step you’ve taken, follow it up. You will need to continue to study your spouse throughout your marriage. Little moments of communication continued over time build intimacy, and positive communication builds a positive cycle of intimacy.
Not all communication has to be serious. Enjoy some fun together! Put the kind of investment into your marriage that you would into a business or hobby or anything else you value extremely highly. Some of your date nights can be asking each other some questions. And don’t forget to include God in your conversations.
The work God does in your heart and your spouse’s heart can result in a transformed marriage as you invest the effort necessary to learn communication skills. Make sure your own heart is open, and pray for and watch for an open heart in your spouse.
Remember, in marriage your spouse gets a vote, and you can’t vote for them. But I challenge you to use these principles in your communication, and I guarantee things will improve. These steps will allow you to cooperate with God to transform your marriage communication.
Need a more detailed plan?
Dr Carol’s Guide to Healthy Communication in Marriage expands on these ideas and gives you practical exercises that will help you use these ideas in your own marriage. The accompanying practical worksheets will help you talk about some of the toughest areas couples struggle to communicate about such as sex, money, and blended family issues, and provide you a way to RESET things between you even if communication has completely broken down.
Find out more about Dr Carol’s Guide to Healthy Communication in Marriage now. I know it will be a tool that can help transform this vital aspect of your marriage.
Your Turn: What is the biggest obstacle to healthy communication in your marriage? Which of these steps do you need to concentrate on to move toward transformed communication? Leave a comment below.
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- Communication in marriage doesn’t just happen. You can learn the skills that will transform your marriage communication regardless of how your spouse responds. Tweet that.