Not everyone thinks about this, but there is quite a difference between “talking at” or communicating “with” your spouse. Couples in happy marriages are attentive. They don’t allow communication “mistakes” to occur on a regular basis.
“Talking at” is quite a common mistake. Yet most couples don’t realize they are doing it. It begins with allowing your unfiltered thoughts and feelings to just flow out, without thinking about, or maybe caring about, how it may impact your spouse. Predictably, the spouse’s reaction to what may be perceived by them as a verbal “slap”, will be to “slap” back; then the downward cycle begins.
“Why do you always do ‘that’? It’s annoying.” … response: “You’re always on me. You started it anyway.”
For most couples the above is considered “normal” household communication. It’s not at all considerate or beneficial, but its normal. And usually its pretty loud and bitter.
There is, of course, a much better way. But to get to the better ways, which covers a lot of ground, its good to first think about, and analyze, communication in general.
Communication, is essentially an expression of words, ideas, and feelings
Because it reflects your attitudes towards each other it is important for you to make every effort for your own marital communication to be positive and loving.
Good marriage communication practices are essential for ongoing happiness.
There is good reason why people place a lot of value in various courses that teach different forms of communication. Negotiation courses are a common example. For people in sales a good negotiation course is a must. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Everyone knows how important communication is, for getting along, and getting your needs met. Nearly every profession, in fact, has specific courses for proper communication within their specialty; from realtors to doctors and lawyers. Marriage, as a unique venue of life, also requires you learn its unique communication laws.
Knowledge of how to communicate well is undeniably valuable. Good communication skills reduces misunderstanding, keeps things simpler, and generally, especially in marriage, makes living in close proximity more positive; the way your marriage should be.
Unfortunately, however, and ironically (because marriage is your most important venue), few people take a specialized course for marital communication before getting married, even though it would be helpful for every single couple.
Still, I do my personal best to help all who are interested in learning how to improve their marital communication (one section of our course is devoted entirely to marriage communication), so you can improve your overall marriage. Many couples don’t begin learning these important skills until later in life; but it is never too late to learn.
First key, or rule of thumb; whenever you communicate with your spouse try to be conscious of your intentions, and your goals.
If you remember this key you will be able to consciously create happiness, and at the same time avoid any hurtfulness. You always can say the right thing, if you think first. But its rare to say the beneficial thing if you just blurt out how you are feeling, without thinking it through. So think before you speak, or act.
Happiness does not just happen in marriage, you know. It has to be developed and nurtured. So, think of communication with your spouse as an excellent opportunity to create happiness. But, if you are not paying attention you can easily undo it. So, that’s the first key;
Be aware of your goal. Think before you speak or act.
Rather than blurting out what is on your mind, ask yourself if it will have a beneficial, or detrimental effect. This kind of evaluation, alone, will make a huge difference in your relationship.
Words are not the only form of communication you need to be aware of.
For instance, some people think it’s communicating humor to tease their spouse. And it is true that teasing is another form of communication. But people who tease someone generally do not take the feelings of the one they are teasing into account, or they would be very careful about what kind of teasing they do.
For example, pulling a chair away as someone is sitting down is a form of communication; which is very inconsiderate. As in most cases of teasing, the teased person is humiliated; they are not feeling loved at all by that kind of communication.
Loving “teasing”, as you know, will make your lover smile. Like a little hidden tickle that nobody else sees during an important meeting. That kind of “teasing” is only for those who really know their spouse, so they know beforehand that it will be taken in the way it is intended.
But don’t be stubborn. If it fails, it is defensiveness to suggest your partner “should have known” when your teasing causes a negative reaction. In those cases, because it can happen any time, its upon you to sincerely apologize.
Communication is, in simple terms, transferring thoughts, feelings and ideas
Communication should be done deliberately, and with meaningful actions. Wouldn’t it be great if you truly knew how to communicate with your spouse, so you can achieve constant love and happiness? Of course there are times you just want to be heard. Then, you still need to be careful in how you approach your spouse.
Suppose you are frustrated. Most people typically start complaining about whatever it is that is bothering them. They don’t check in to see if their spouse is ready to listen.
That’s not the best use of your communication time, because it won’t build your marriage in any way; and it might harm your relationship; even if it is not a frustration with your spouse. Negativity is easy to spill into your marriage, but not so easy to let go of.
Thinking your spouse should “be there for you” in this way, acting like a receptacle for any negativity, any time, is not marriage thinking; it is more child type thinking. You need to be aware of your spouse’s needs and limits.
Instead, you can try looking to your spouse for a joke, or happy story. Get your mind off what is troubling you. Get into a happy place with your spouse instead of dragging them into whatever it is that tweaking you. Your mind is yours. Using your free will to change your thoughts is what is called for; not venting (which is self-defeating).
Marriage is meant to be a constant stream of happiness; honestly. So, the right kind of communication, the kind that fills your marriage with love, changes everything. Vigilant self-awareness allows you to fulfill the positive purpose of marital communication.
My philosophy is that when your actions are purposeful, rather than random, you are in control of the outcomes. … Why not apply that same, and sane, philosophy to your marriage?
To recall this philosophy I coined a specific “purpose” for marital communication. That way, when communication is seen as an integral functioning part, it nicely fits into a super healthy functioning marriage.
The purpose for “Marital Communication” is to send and join your love
Effective marriage communication, when adhering to the higher principles of soul-connecting, as stated and implied within the purpose, creates marital happiness, and, you should know, it does not take years to master.
You should know the following
If it’s only poor communication, and not other issues afflicting your marriage, and your marriage is merely in the doldrums, but nothing truly serious or awful is going on, you can pretty easily turn things around with one of our books.
Either Lessons For A Happy Marriage, or Breaking The Cycle are excellent guides for marriage, and both are very complete; and they cover everything. You will be amazed at how well marriage is presented.
Again, either one of these books are excellent for marriages. That is unless your marriage is in distress .
If your marriage has deteriorated pretty badly (only you can judge that) don’t give up. You still can turn an unhappy marriage into the great marriage you desire. But you will need more help than you can get by just reading one of our books. You will need our highly acclaimed online program.
The program, by the way, is divided by gender. So, even if just one of you wants to turn things around you can still do it, even on your own. And yes, it really takes only one of you to transform your marriage.
I am sure you have heard, but any time you apply marriage advice from The Marriage Foundation you will not go wrong.
We have earned our golden reputation over the course of many years, helping thousands of couples and families. Our marriage teachings are significantly better than virtually any other system (click on the link to read why) you can find. But, of course the proof is in the pudding. Our success rate is unmatched.
When I met with distraught couples in my early days (’03-’05) the trend at the time was to explain away marital problems with “we don’t have good communication”. In some cases that was true, and because everyone needs help with that I was able to steer people in the right direction. But in a lot of cases the couples used poor communication as an excuse, a blanket explanation for many problems.
It is best to address your marriage issues as honestly as you can. If you are angry all the time, that is not just communication. If one of you is cheating, that is not about communication.
It is truly better to use any unhappiness in your marriage as a reason to address the underlying foundational structure of your marriage. After all, marriage is supposed to be very joy filled. You might as well learn how to do that.
Using our materials, ideas, techniques, and so forth, you will discover you still have the love, and power to halt any downward cycles your marriage may be trapped in. In almost any case, you can have what you really want, which is happiness. I love seeing great recoveries!
I wanted to share some fool proof advice on communication with you. Naturally, you should not think this is all you will ever need, as no article can substitute for an all-in effort. But these will certainly help you.
Never confront your spouse
Misguided therapists often erroneously think women will lose their dignity if they don’t “stand up for themselves”, or “put ultimatums on the table” when their husbands are caught cheating in some way. But nothing could be further from the truth.
You should never confront your husband. And, obviously, the same goes for men. Never confront your wife. Your wife isn’t inferior to you just because you are physically stronger. She is your life’s treasure. Never confront her!
Being married does not give either of you the “right” to confront. On the contrary. Being married gives you the obligation to be respectful. The contract of marriage is not like other, worldly, contracts. It is not a “deal,” but a spiritual contract each of you tries to live up to.
If one of you strays it is a symptom that needs to shock you into doing better. If you take it as a “deal breaker” you have missed the whole point of marriage.
The above topic, of what marriage is all about cannot be addressed in this article, but needs to understood if you want happiness.
Our only mission is to show you how to be happily married; not help you win a war that kills your family as a side effect. We don’t teach how to manipulate, get your way, coerce, or anything that creates sides within your marriage.
Do you remember the purpose of marriage communication I showed you above? It also means the purpose of marriage communication is not to show your spouse you are either better than, equal to, or lesser than them. It’s not to make your point better, or any other idea you can come up with; other than to express love.
What marriage, or marital, communication is about is as simply stated above; communicate love.
It is about infusing your marriage with happiness. Confrontation never produces happiness, so keep that out of your marriage communication; no matter what! (obviously the exception would be if there were dangerous activities such as child abuse or drunken violence. But then you would call the police).
This isn’t rocket science, by the way. Nobody requires a degree to figure this out.
People who are confronted are going to feel threatened, right? Well, anyone who feels threatened will either fight, or fly. Do you remember that from when you studied survival of animals in school?
We, too, have “animal” bodies. So, we are subjected to similar instinctive triggers. That’s why when you confront someone they will either bite your head off, or lie through their teeth to get away; just the way it is. It is biology based.
Then there is the outcome to consider. What outcome do you want? Positive? Or negative?
Confrontations produce only negative outcomes
Marriages are never a place to be confrontational.
A. Confrontation does not, cannot, produce a positive result. And,
B. Confrontation’s very nature works against core marriage principles of love and harmony
You should never confront someone you love and adore (kids excluded). You just don’t!
Even when a husband has been discovered using a porn site, or having an affair.
Don’t listen to ANY excuse to allow confrontation!
If they intentionally hid it, and you expose them, they will react defensively. They may lie, accuse you of prying, blame you for their actions, or use some other tactic they have used with you in the past.
Our program will cover virtually everything you need to know to have a happy marriage. It is rare that a marriage is so off track that we cannot help you.
In our program we teach you how to be married, so you can leave the past in the past. In 99 out of 100 cases the past does not need to be addressed. Confrontation is not good, no matter how you play that game.
Confrontation will push you further away from each other. Then, at that point, you will be sure you have already lost your marriage. (Don’t worry. We help couples at this stage all the time. Your marriage is not over.)
If you want to share your situation with an expert do not hesitate to contact us. Our coaches get marriage help questions all the time that begin with something like, “I know I shouldn’t have confronted my husband, and he did just what you have said.” So, we say PLEASE! Never confront!
What to do instead
This article is about communication. I refer those who are experiencing unfaithfulness to a different article. Honestly, if that is happening in your marriage you should have started there. Your situation is too serious to just address your communication needs, for now.
Train yourself to speak positively
May I make a suggestion?
You are an individual, right? You have free will. So you can do whatever you want, no matter what. That means you can choose your communication style, words, everything!
Don’t be reactive! Be amazing. Be calm, be inwardly content, be the you that the whole world would admire if they could see how loving and selfless you are.
If I should not confront my husband, how can I get him to listen to me?
Seriously, are we back to confrontation? Well, it is a fair question! And, this is technically a different topic.
Getting your spouse to listen to you, if you go back to the rightful purpose of marital communication means something else, than getting him or her to do what you want. And, this is where couples need to shift their thinking about their marriage. Ask your self these questions;
- Do we treat each other as soulmates? Or have we become cellmates, or just roommates?
- When I communicate, do I have an agenda of love and giving, or am I only expressing my needs?
- Am I as good a communicator as I want my spouse to be?
Here is a better way to converse for practical things. How does your communication match up?
“Honey, there is something upsetting me, and it’s not your fault, I just need to talk to you about it. I know you are good at fixing things, but for this I only need to talk about it. In fact, a ‘practical’ solution would only be a greater burden for me. I just need to get it out.”
By expressing it this way you are covering all your bases, and your husband will be there for you. He will be as good listener as he is capable. But don’t expect this to be remembered by him next time. In fact, don’t make it long and drawn out, as in the example. Because the example is intended to show more of a tone, than anything else.
BE WARNED: If he does not do very well, don’t tell him he is a stupid jerk or an insensitive boor. That would not be positive, and he will learn to fear all your communications. Smile, thank him, and compliment him for being a good listener. Otherwise he will avoid you. You’ll know what will happen next, and next.
Sometimes “not listening” is different. In some cases, ladies have told me their husbands don’t listen. Sadly, what they actually meant was they were telling their husbands what to do. They actually meant their husband is not doing what they want them to do. That attitude is a connection breaker.
Although maybe you don’t mean your husband doesn’t heed your demands, we still need to cover this, because most wives start to take their husbands for granted, and don’t realize they have become mean and demanding.
Trust the following as gospel; husband will rarely “listen” when being:
- Informed of a flaw
- Nagged – which is repetition of any of the above
You may have forgotten, but your husband is there for you to love, honor, serve, and protect you, to the best of his ability; like what you have said in your vows. He is not there to:
- “Prove” his love
- Be your slave – being a servant is an honor, being a slave is humiliating
I hope this little article inspired you to think more deeply about your marriage, and your communication. Our approach is POSITIVE! But you also need to know what not to do.
Marital communication is an art and science, with many facets. The most important point to remember is that the two of you live together in a unique space, occupied by only two of you.
Be good to him or her, make them feel like a million dollars every time you speak to them, and you will see them responding in kind. Sometimes you can hint to your needs, but don’t forget to take care of theirs.
An amazing marriage is entirely possible. Take a look at our programs, and maybe you will see the value. I hope you do. However, if an entire program seems too much, you can check out Breaking the Cycle. It has gotten very nice reviews.
Love isn’t a measurable item. It cannot be weighed or dimensionalized. It has no limitations; it takes up no space. So, when you consider this truth, you will see that her domain is far beyond your male-styled, three-dimensional concepts.
Most couples start to take each other for granted, which erodes marriage quicker than waves erode a sandy beach. But you can get it all back, and more.
If you stick to the core principles of love as the guide for all your communications you will experience the joy that marriage has to offer. Yes, its true that you must train yourself somewhat. But it is well worth it. It’s the best way to be married.