|Communication is one of the main issues couples tell me they struggle with. While I hold to the idea, that there is often much more going on than just lack of communication skills, there is something to be said for being an effective communicator.
By communicator I am referring to both speaking and listening. Spouses, and really anyone in relationship can always improve the way they listen and speak to each other.
Here are 3 tips to get you thinking and working!
Speak to your spouse like you would speak to a friend or coworker.
I know that sounds kind of odd, but what I mean is, think about the tone in your voice, the look on your face and the words you are choosing. If you are frustrated that a coworker did not wipe out the microwave after he used it last, what exactly would you say?
It probably wouldn’t be, “I can’t believe I’m wiping out the microwave again! Do I have to be your mother? I wish you could just remember to wipe it out after you make a mess, so I don’t have to clean up after you just like the rest of the kids in the house!”
That is not very professional. That does not make you look good. And that would likely create defensiveness at both work and home, not problem solving. So, treat your spouse with the same respect and civility that you give to others. If your boss had not cleaned out the microwave how would you approach her? If your friend had splattered her lunch all over your freshly cleaned microwave, how would you handle that situation? Try talking to your spouse like that.
Is this something that you try to do, but just keep losing it? Do you want to understand more about why you have such strong emotion about things that don’t seem like a really big deal? You will need to explore the communication pattern you and your spouse have and the role you play in the pattern.
Do You Chase Or Do You Run In Your Relationship? is a good start to understanding your pattern.
When you need to have a tough conversation, make sure the time is right for both of you.
Immediately after she walks in the door or when you are both exhausted and about to fall asleep, are not good times to have tough conversations. I am sure you can identify other times that are not good as well. Let your partner know you need to talk and set aside some time that will work for both of you.
Remember that you are on the same team, even if you disagree.
You both want Johnny to grow up to be a successful adult and know that he is loved by his family. You may not have the same ideas about how to get there, but both of you have Johnny and the family’s best interest in mind.
You are on the same team, even if there are issues in your relationship. You both want to support each other, have good communication, enjoy time spent together and feel close. You love each other!
Keeping in mind that you are on the same team, will help you to look at your spouse’s ideas more openly. Sharing your ideas with a teammate rather than an enemy will change the way you present your ideas as well. Let your first goal be that both of you understand each other well, before you try and solve or compromise.
If your communication pattern has become so crazy that one or both of you are acting in ways you regret, you may need some support to help you communicate effectively and remember that you are on the same team. Often in couples there are underlying feelings that you are not totally aware of. These taint your simple and complex conversations and can sometimes cause you to act in ways you do not even completely understand yourself.
The couple described in my blog post, What Happened On The Walk, is a good example of acting in ways you don’t understand and what may be behind it.
Please connect with me if you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment. You can e-mail me; firstname.lastname@example.org or call; (559)238-7464.