Communication is central to every relationship. How we send and receive communication with our spouse tears us apart or moves us closer together. Research from a number of fields is clear: How we listen and how we communicate determines our success in relationships.
All marriages struggle with communication. Couples who do life together forever stay in their negative pattern of communication shorter periods of time and repair their relationship faster than those couples who fail to recognize their communication struggles and make amends.
How is your marriage’s communication?
This brief assessment is best when both of you do separately then compare notes. Take a few minutes and go through the following list and mark each question with who you believe does the question well: You, Your Spouse, Both of You, or Neither.
Who does this well…
- Knowing when to talk and when to not talk?
- Listening without interruption?
- Being assertive (not aggressive) with needs?
- Staying on topic?
- Being ready to apologize?
- Coming across as personally warm?
- Expressing emotions in healthy ways?
- Appropriately using humor?
- Giving full-body attention?
- Expressing genuine interest?
- Identifying feelings and owning them?
- Inviting and receiving feedback?
- Reserving opinion/response until the right time?
- Permitting productive conflict?
- Maintaining eye contact while talking/listening?
- Being vulnerable?
- Thinking clearly before speaking?
- Speaking with clarity?
All of the items you selected as “Both of You” are the strongest areas in your communication. The items that you marked as “Neither” are considered to be your greatest opportunities for communication growth as a couple. It is likely that you and your spouse see some things the same way, while experiencing a difference of opinion on others.
Making Your Marriage Communication Stronger
Celebrate your strengths! Focus first on what you two are doing well. Then take some time to ask your spouse the following questions in the opportunities for improvement area:
What do you think we could each do to improve this area of communication?
How do you imagine you would better experience me doing that in our relationship?
What specific things can I do to make improvements in this area?
Remember that going through this together is about connecting you more deeply and moving each other toward the other. Keep the big goal in mind! If you feel yourself complaining and blaming, becoming defensive, or wanting to move away from your spouse, take a 30 minute timeout and try it again after you both have had time to cool down. If you need a third party to be involved, reach out to a minister, Christian marriage coach or counselor, or a trusted Christian couple who are veterans of marriage in your life.
We love to hear from readers. What would you add to our list of help in strengthening communication? If you tried this exercise, how did it go for you? What happened for you when you attempted to put these ideas into practice in your marriage?
This article was written by Roy and Devra Wooten, authors of “The Secret to a Lifetime Love”. Learn more at www.LifeTogetherForever.com © Roy and Devra Wooten 2015. All Rights Reserved. You may replicate this article as long as it is provided free to recipients and includes appropriate attribution. Written permission for other use may be obtained at Secret@LifeTogetherForever.com.