You spend more time with your husband than just about anyone else, but that doesn’t always mean you easily see eye to eye. Communication issues at home can impact your kids, your work, basically every other area of your life. Continuing to approach matters the same way will only lead to more of the same problems, so it’s important to bring a fresh perspective to communication issues with your spouse. Here are a few quick tips for how you can improve communication with your partner that can all help affect lasting positive change.
Keep the criticism constructive. It is always easiest to hurt the ones we love, and negative input from your spouse can cut deeper than from anyone else. So if you’re harboring feelings of resentment, bitterness or disappointment, you certainly need to get them off your chest. But a massive venting session where you lash out with no qualifications will not help matters, and can lead to things getting much worse. So when you sit down to talk things out, try your best not to exaggerate. He may do things that disappoint you, but it’s probably not constant, so don’t act like it is. Don’t put words in his mouth, or claim you ‘know’ what he’s thinking without it being communicated. Do your best to speak about what you need from the relationship to be happy, as opposed to focusing on what he does that is wrong or hurtful. And be specific. The more general your statements, the less he can do to amend the behavior, and the greater the chance he’ll take it personally and simply tune you out.
Leave your defensiveness for the highway. Being defensive is a great approach to driving, but not such a great way to communicate. You’re going to need to find a way to listen to his negative feelings or opinions without getting defensive. If you spend all of your time trying to prove to him why he’s at fault and you’re completely innocent of blame, you won’t get any closer to solving the issue. Sometimes people need to vent before they can begin to face things, and if these issues have been in place a long while, there may be a lot to vent. If it has to go there, let it. The fact that you two are facing things head on is a positive, even if the first conversation or two are hard. And the fact that you don’t meet his anger with your own will help diffuse things.
Don’t hold back the positive. If there’s good to be said, go on and say it! Okay, you may want to keep him in the doghouse for his faults, but withholding your own feelings of appreciation, admiration and love because of a certain percentage of negative will only exacerbate the problems. People seem to have an easier time communicating the bad than the good. Don’t fall into that trap. If you can match or exceed the complaints with compliments or acknowledgements, you’ll find him much more amenable to addressing the issues.
Be honest. No one is perfect, and no spouse is entirely to blame for the issues in the relationship. Honesty is the key to improving your communication skills. You can sniff out a lie, especially when spoken by the one closest to you. So if you’re really interested in improving communication with your spouse, you’ll need to leave the lies at the door.