Relationships can only blossom when partners understand each other. So, how do we build understanding in a relationship? The answer is open communication! It is a key pillar for all healthy relationships.
Unless you or your spouse have been gifted with telepathy, open communication is vital to understanding each other’s needs, feelings, and thoughts.
Of course, open communication is not always easy but with the right amount of mutual effort, it can go a long way. When partners are able to honestly voice their needs and feel safe to share their most intimate feelings, greater love and trust is developed.
Let’s look at some ways to improve open communication with your spouse!
1. Listen, listen, listen!
As the saying goes, you should be “all ears”. One of the most common pitfalls of communication between couples is that we’re usually not really listening to our spouse.
Think of the last time you and your spouse had an argument. As they were speaking, was your mind running a thousand miles per hour thinking of all the responses and counter-arguments that you were planning to fire back?
Often we rush to form a response instead of truly listening.
Listening is when you pause all thoughts going through your mind and focus on what the person you care about is saying.
2. Acknowledge that feelings are not always rational
Humans are not always rational beings. In fact, many philosophers even believe that it is impossible to separate emotions and feelings from cognitive rational thoughts! Nonetheless, it is important for partners in a relationship to know that what they feel matters to the other person.
With that being said, take time to validate your partner’s feelings with affirming language such as reiterating or paraphrasing what your partner has just shared with you.
By doing this you are not only showing that you are trying to understand and support them, but you are also listening which brings us back to the previous point!
For instance, your spouse is conveying that they are not happy with the fact that you’ve been coming home late from work nearly every night in the past week.
After letting them finish their explanation, you can validate that by reiterating, “Thank you for sharing that, I appreciate it. From what I understand, you feel like I haven’t been spending as much as time as I should with you. Does that sound right? What can I do or what can we do to make you feel better?”
3. Don’t scream or yell
If you catch you or your partner yelling, take a step back!
If voices are being raised, you are not communicating but instead fighting which accomplishes nothing.
Let each other take a step away to cool down. You can re-approach the topic at a later time which could be another day, perhaps when you both are in a good and relaxed mood!
Remember that your tone of voice is important in any kind of communication. Especially when communicating with your spouse, be sure to use body language and the tone of your voice that is warm and encouraging.
4. Be careful of what you allow into your relationship
Whatever communication styles and behaviors you allow to be a part of your current interaction will become part of all of your interactions!
Be aware that if you raise your voices and don’t immediately step back and talk about not yelling when communicating, congratulations, yelling is now a valid way of expressing yourself in your relationship.
The same is for insults, mocking, or even physical intimidation. Be aware of what you are permissive of, not setting boundaries early and often about the way you treat one another can slowly erode a relationship into resentment!