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Live the Life Blog

How to communicate better with your spouse

April 2019

A study published by Psychology Today talks about the loneliness epidemic in America. The study revealed that of the individuals that reported being lonely, more than half of them were married! So how do we combat loneliness and bond with our spouses? One way to improve our connections by learning how to communicate better.

 

Here are some tips for effective communication:

 

  1. Meet Need. Love is experienced when needs are met. When our needs are not met, we feel disconnected and alone. Our core emotional needs were programmed into us from the beginning. Like food, air, water, and shelter, emotional needs are biologically based. Individuals cannot meet emotional needs on their own, they can only be met in relationships. When these needs go unmet, we experience pain, but when our relational needs are met, a chemical called dopamine is released in the brain and we feel pleasure. It is important to remember that our spouse cannot meet all of our relational needs, so it is extremely important for us to build relationships with friends, family members, neighbors and co-workers as well. Meeting needs is one of the most important areas to focus on when considering how to communicate better with your spouse.

  2. Learn How to Confide in Your Spouse. The ability to reveal yourself fully, honestly, and directly to your spouse is the key to intimacy. In healthy relationships, couples learn to maintain an easy communication about what is going on in their lives. To change the basic nature of your relationship from one of distance to one of closeness, begin with small caring gestures like greeting your partner at the door, sharing encouraging words, and committing to confide in one another. If you and your spouse learn to confide and be expressive to each other with your bodies, hearts, spirits, and minds, you will experience more happiness and fulfillment. Consider learning how to use The Daily Temperature Reading, developed by Virginia Satir. This skill teaches couples to share appreciations, new information, puzzles, complaints with request for change, apologies, prayer requests, and wishes, hopes and dreams on a daily basis. You can learn this skill from Live the Life’s Adventures in Marriage.

  3. Become a Generous Listener. Listening is more than being quiet while the other person speaks until you get your turn to respond. Ask yourself "what is my spouse feeling right now?" Effective  communication does not occur until you understand the feelings underneath the words. Generous listening is a learned skill, not something we develop automatically. The crucial ingredients for good listening are: undivided attention, empathy and compassion. To become a generous listener, resist the urge to react and worry about the impact of your partner’s words on you. Put yourself in your partner’s shoes. Notice your spouse’s emotions, facial expression, levels of tension and stress. Allow yourself to feel what your partner feels. You can care about how your spouse is feeling even if you do not agree with what they are saying. People generally feel understood and connected when communication focuses on their emotions and feelings, not just on thoughts and words.

  4. Avoid Dirty Fighting. The simplest and most powerful way to tell whether you fight dirty is to examine the way you feel after the fight is over. Bad feelings after a fight indicate that the style is dirty and destructive, while feelings of greater closeness and clarity mean you and your spouse are on the right track to fighting fair. While it may make us feel better to use dirty fighting tactics, these unhealthy coping behaviors damage the relationship in the long run. If you resolve a tough issue, the agreement doesn’t mean much if you felt belittled or bullied in the process. To avoid dirty fighting, it is important that you start by taking responsibility for your actions, words and attitudes. Next, you and your partner should come up with a mutually agreed upon sign or word that lovingly and respectfully lets your spouse know that they just used a dirty fighting tactic. A great “sign” is to use the “ouch” rule. Just say “ouch” whenever dirty fighting has started, and then the conversation stops until you both figure out why one partner said ouch! This can help you and your spouse identify and avoid dirty fighting in an argument. Most couples are surprised to discover that if they eliminate dirty fighting techniques, they can communicate better on issues that have been too hard to handle in the past.  


 

To learn more about the easy, attainable tools and skills you need to communicate effectively, check out  Live the Life’s Adventures in Marriage programs!