How Communication Impacts Your Marriage
When we were a few years into being married, we had many fights. Practically zero new material was fought over, but instead, we fought about the same issues repeatedly.
Here’s the deal, we’ve been doing this marriage counseling thing long enough to know that we were not the first couple who kept getting caught in fight cycles, and we certainly weren’t the last.
You may not be aware of this, but much of the fighting you might be doing likely has its roots in poor communication. Because of its prevalence, we want to share some of the most common issues that make communication ineffective.
Speaking before thinking
This one can work both ways. Sometimes we start a conversation out of anger or frustration before thinking about what we want to say. We jump the gun and go directly into criticism, putting our spouse immediately on the defensive. Other times, we lash out because of something said to us before pausing and responding appropriately.
A simple trick to overcome this is by training yourself to hit the pause button the moment you feel that blood starting to boil from frustration. While pausing, ask yourself what you want your spouse to know, hear, or understand. When you have your answer and feel calm enough to articulate it, move forward. If you need time to gather your thoughts, ask for it by saying, “I don’t want to respond the wrong way, so I need a little time to process this.”
Not listening to one another
Scientific research has shown that we only listen to about a third of what’s being said, while we spend two-thirds thinking of our response. To make matters worse, it also tells us that we can only recall about 20% of what we hear. This is a recipe for disaster in a marriage. But it’s also a call for grace because you’ll both be bad at listening if you’re not intentional.
All of this should tell you that if you want your spouse to feel heard, especially since most of us tend to get repetitive, louder, and angrier when we’re not, you will have to start listening on purpose. The second your spouse feels you’ve heard them is when they will know you’re on the road to resolution, which will speed it up instead of slow it down with needless loud repetitions.
Some simple tips for listening well are putting your phones down and setting distractions aside, making eye contact, and paraphrasing and repeating what you’ve heard.
As for the last two communication faux pas, we will group them together, hearing what’s not being said and not clarifying. All too often, we react to our assumptions more than we react to what is truly being said, and when that happens, we take it one step further and fail to clarify if what we’ve heard is actually what was meant.
This can be where, “Can you put your cup in the dishwasher?” turns into, “You are messy and never do anything around the house!” or maybe a “Fine.” response to a “How do I look?” turns into an extra half hours’ worth of outfit changes.
Here’s a quick tip to resolve that issue; if a response is over the top or different than you expected, that’s a big clue that your spouse has misunderstood what you’re trying to say. If this is the case, ask them directly what they heard you say or thought you meant by what you said. This provides an opportunity to clarify and get back on track.
Good communication will always involve a lot of remaining calm, good listening, and clarity….oh, and much grace!
And don’t forget, if this is a big issue for your marriage and you don’t have the time or resources for counseling, don’t forget we have our How to L.O.V.E. Your Way Through Conflict course, where we expand on this topic and a lot more! Don’t forget to get your extra 10% off as a subscriber by using code EXPEDITION!