Good communication skills are important for building and retaining a strong relationship. If talks with your spouse often end up in shouting matches or with hurt feelings, then a tweak in how you communicate with your spouse is in order. Next time you broach a tender subject, take these steps to keep the communication flowing more harmoniously.
Get to the point. In general, men like simple thoughts that they can take action on and women like honesty. Wrap up your thoughts in a simple package and avoid talking about more than one subject at once to complicate the matter. For example, say, “The trash needs to be taken out every afternoon,” instead of, “You need to start taking the trash out every day and you need to wash the car–oh, and you need to get cheese at the grocery store…”
Don’t accuse. Accusations put the other person on the defensive. Defensiveness leads to arguments. Try to state the problem without blame. Use your feelings to convey the message. For example, say, “I feel hurt when I don’t see you after work,” instead of, “You need to stop staying out all night!”
Take time to listen. You can’t act on or sympathize with what your partner is saying if you don’t hear it. This means turning off the phone, television and computer, if need be, to hear your spouse correctly and respectfully.
Remember, the sexes listen differently. A study done by Dr. Joseph T. Lurito (see Resource) found that men only listen with half their brain and women listen with the whole brain. This means that a woman can listen to two conversations at once, while a man may be able to watch television with the sound down and still be able to carry on a conversation. Although these methods may seem rude to the other spouse, they may not mean that the other person isn’t giving you attention.
Don’t interrupt. Even if you feel the burning need to jump in and correct what your partner just said, don’t. This makes your mate feel as if he has nothing to contribute. Besides, correcting your partner constantly will have no purpose but to make her angrier.
- Avoid traps. Most couples play with traps every now and then. One partner says something to get the other to admit to something. This makes your marriage into a game and ruins the trust needed to communicate effectively.