So many marital problems boil down to one problem: communication.
Barriers to effectively communicating take a toll on nearly every aspect marriage – all because couples don’t have a good sense of what’s going on with each other.
This can lead to ignoring ongoing issues, mistakes based on miscommunication, and anger when it feels like your spouse just isn’t listening to what you have to say.
Roadblocks to communication stem from many places – from problems trusting to personal difficulty opening up, from insecurity to simple lack of communication skills…
These all have ways of making situations more difficult, but for now, we’ll look at simple ways to think about our own ways of speaking to help our spouses become better listeners.
1. Promote Dialogue
No one likes to be “talked at.” When conversations are totally one sided, it can cause people to shut down, and all but stop listening – no matter the topic. As the speaker, it’s easy to get on a roll and make point after point, or recount every detail of a story without considering how it might be affecting your listener.
With a little bit of awareness, though, we can take steps to be better speakers and listeners. By simply slowing down and paying attention to the other person, we can prevent ourselves from steamrolling them with a monologue.
Conversation is a dialogue – communication between two people.
As a speaker, ask questions (or at the very least, allowing space for response and comments). If your spouse tends to steamroll you as a listener, let them know how it feels – that you aren’t enjoying a conversation, and instead feel like you’re just being “talked at.”
2. It Can’t Be All About Them
Another bad habit that shuts down communication is when someone makes the entire conversation (or series of conversations) all about them.
When you just talk about yourself, what’s going on in your life and in your own head, you are showing the other person (without actually saying it), that your personal concerns are more important than anything else that might be going on around you.
Even if they don’t mean it, your spouse might make you feel like they aren’t interested in your problems or successes if they spend all of their energy talking about their own.
Again, to solve this problem, you have to address it. It might be a difficult subject to tackle, but let your spouse know that it makes you feel ignored or overshadowed. Try talking about “third party” topics, or directly asking that they let you vent. Ask them questions to promote dialogue, and do your best to agree to “take turns” – so neither of you are dominating the focus.
This can go both ways. Either your spouse doesn’t listen because they’re too busy talking about themselves, or they check out because you are. Pay attention to the “shared” dynamic of your conversations.
3. Control Tone
If the conversation is a contentious one – that is, if you’re talking with your spouse about a problem – tone is everything!
There’s a massive difference between a concerned talk about a problem that affects the stability and strength of the marriage, and an outright attack on someone’s behavior or character.
By keeping anger in check, avoiding absolutes, sarcasm, personal attacks, etc., you keep the conversation on the topic at hand, instead of pushing emotional buttons that can make people check out, grow defensive, and ignore any criticism directed at them.
If you come at your spouse with an aggressive tone, they can shut right down, and won’t listen to a word you have to say.
Communication is essential for any healthy relationship, and taking steps to improve the way you communicate with your spouse will actually improve the way they communicate with you as well!
Both of you should be aware of the listener when speaking, and imagine what it’s like to be in their position. By putting yourself in each other’s shoes, you can keep both your bad habits in check and promote better communication for everyone involved!
For more advice on how to strengthen your marriage, check out the StrongMarriageNow System today!