Part 1 of a 2-Part Communicating with Your Spouse SeriesWhen thinking about communication, many emotions come to mind. The topic may evoke anger, fear, sadness, longing or perhaps frustration. It may remind us of events that revolved around communication, and may cause memories of being vulnerable or embarrassed to resurface. It may recall our experiences of encountering language barriers, of feeling ignored, or even of domestic violence. Moreover, communication in marriage poses specific challenges. When communicating with your spouse, you may feel as though there is a loss of connection or interest. You may experience hostile conflict most of the time and not have the words “good fight” in your joint vocabulary. You may not be able to agree to disagree and simple conversations may always end up trying to get each other to see and agree with the other’s outlook.
Communication is a Skill to be Learned
Despite these negative experiences, there are solutions to the problems we experience with communication. My experience as a Christian counselor has taught me that good communication can be learned and used on an everyday basis.
The truth is that communication is something that I like to call a skill. Not only does it require practice and willpower to learn, but it is also not common for many individuals to master it. Communicating well with one’s spouse often takes time and humility. We have learned our communication skills from our environments, including our families of origin. Sometimes these have provided us with stable and healthy examples of communication. But they can also leave people in a free for all in which they have to learn to develop healthy skills. If you think about communication as a skill and train yourself to use this skill, this can help you to be more fulfilled in your communication with your spouse.
Five Ways to Improve Your Communication with Your Spouse
This is the first article of a two-part series in which I present five helpful tools for improving your communication with your spouse. These are:
- Seek to listen and understand instead of planning your next sentence.
- Keep eye contact.
- Imagine how your spouse is feeling emotionally.
- Let your spouse talk without interruption.
- The message relayed to your spouse must be delivered in the language of love.
Seek to Listen and Understand
Instead of planning how you will react while your spouse is speaking, seek rather to listen to them and to understand what they are saying. This concept is based on the understanding that when we listen to our spouse and seek to understand what they mean, we will gain connection with them and will, therefore, be in a better place to communicate with them. By allowing our spouse to speak and be heard, we gain connection with them and open the way to a better communication. When you listen to your spouse instead of thinking about what you will say next, you are able to respond to what was communicated. This shows your spouse that you care enough to truly discuss an issue instead of simply being heard yourself. It is also easier to seek to understand and listen when you are keeping eye contact, which is the next concept.
Keep Eye Contact
When keeping eye contact, you are better able to pay attention to the subject matter. This shows your spouse that you are interested in what is being communicated and that you consider your spouse to be important. Your spouse will feel important because you are not focusing on any other object or person. When a person feels that they are being attended to, it makes them feel safe. They are more likely to trust you and to be vulnerable with you. It is not easy to be vulnerable in a relationship. We have all come from different families and we have experiences that may make it difficult for us to feel safe being vulnerable. One way to help heal the wounds of fear of vulnerability is for you as the spouse to use the third concept, namely, imagining how your spouse is feeling emotionally.
Christian Counseling Can Help You Communicate with Your Spouse
In my following article, I will outline the next three skills that you can develop in order to improve communication in your marriage. However, if reading this first article has raised any issues for you, or if you feel the Lord’s tug on your heart to explore counseling as a means to help you put these skills into action, please feel free to contact us or one of our other staff at Seattle Christian Counseling. Counseling really works for those who have an open heart and mind and are ready for change.
Images are from freedigitalphotos.net; “Wooden Figure ‘Speak No Evil’” by Darren Robertson; “Love Heart And Nest” by renjith krishnan
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