Communication is essential in marriage, especially for it to prosper and endure. When communication breaks down in a relationship, it will often spread like a disease to other areas in your marriage. Being able to define what healthy communication is provides the roadmap to how to improve it.
Here are eight guidelines that will help couples define what is healthy communication in marriage.
- Be honest and share feelings. Part of communicating is freely expressing your true feelings and allowing your spouse to express him or herself with you. Try to be nonjudgmental to create a mutual respect for each other’s feelings.
- Make thoughtful gestures. The phrase “actions speak louder than words” rings true here. After your partner has told you what she or she needs from you – whether it be help around the house, alone time or even just to feel more appreciated – nothing will show them more that you heard them than taking action. So each day do something your better half expressed as a need in a previous conversation.
- Learn to be an active listener. A conversation should be 50-50. Once you state your concerns, you should then be willing and able to listen and respond. Let your spouse know that you care and that you are being attentive to his or her desires.
- Say “I love you” often. Sometimes a long, drawn out conversation is not needed if you give your spouse a small daily reminder that he or she is loved, adored and important in your life. This will help communication even more because your spouse will feel comfortable and accepted by you for who they are.
- Listen with your body. From time to time reach out and hold your spouse’s hand or rub his or her back to relax them if is a tense conversation. Studies have evidenced that communication is 80 percent body language. That means that only 20 percent of communication consists of words. So don’t be concerned only with your verbal interactions, but also with your non-verbal ones.
- Make eye contact at all times. This is a sign of respect to your spouse and shows that they have your undivided attention. Be aware of your stance, however, and make sure it is not defensive such as crossing your arms.
- Be mindful of your tone. More often than not it is not what you say, but how you say it. Be aware of your voice and try to keep a friendly tone as much as possible. Stay away from sarcasm and degrading language; it will only hinder what you are trying to accomplish in the conversation.
- Accept differences. Everyone communicates differently and you cannot force your spouse to interact with you the way you want him or her to. Typically, as research has shown, women more often just want to vent their problems, whereas men are problem solvers and want to find solution. Thus, once the problem is solved in their minds, there is no longer a need to discuss. Understanding differences in communication styles makes for a more pleasant discussion.
Article by Jacqueline Williams who is a devoted wife and mother. Used with permission by Marriage Magazine, Fall 2012.