I’ve been a little cranky lately. I am woman enough to admit that. I’m pregnant, I have a lot on my plate, and every time I open my eyes, it feels like someone in my family (immediate and extended) needs me for something. It’s a lot.
And when I get cranky, I can also admit that my poor husband has to deal with some of that. He handles it like a champ most of time—especially if he understands how I feel and what I’m currently dealing with.
His ability to handle my moments isn’t because he’s a saint (although he’s a pretty great guy). It’s because, over the years, I have learned how to improve communication with him, so he’s not left in the dark about what’s going on with me. This has made all the difference in our marriage.
You can hope and wish for a spouse that just knows what’s on your mind, but you will never get one. Even the most amazing spouse isn’t a mind reader. Your job is to effectively communicate what’s going on in your world, so your spouse can understand how it’s going to impact his world. It’s really that simple.
Here are three ways you can instantly improve communication with your spouse. And why do you need instant improvement? Because, we are rapidly approaching the holiday season, and the better you both communicate with each other, the happier your holidays will be.
Choose Your Timing Wisely
When it comes to effective communication, timing is everything. Don’t try to communicate emotionally-charged issues to your spouse when you know you are in a horrible mood. Your tone will be off, your body language will send out all kinds of negative vibes, and your spouse won’t be able to tune in and listen to a word you have to say.
You also don’t want to approach your spouse with certain conversations when you know he is tired, busy, distracted or in a funky mood. For any communication exchange to go well, both parties involved need to be in a good space mentally and emotionally so they can listen effectively and convey their own thoughts and feelings with ease.
Start With a Clean Slate
No one wants to have a conversation with you if all you do is reference what he did wrong in the past. Let the past stay in the past. If you can’t, have a separate conversation to specifically discuss those lingering issues. But when you want to discuss a current issue with your spouse, give your spouse a clean slate. Don’t enter a conversation if you plan on finger pointing and blaming. Conversations like that rarely end well, and you won’t accomplish a thing.
Enter a conversation from a calm place, and let your spouse express his own thoughts and feelings without a need for you to shift the focus to what he did wrong last year. Give him a chance to live in the now. When people feel like they are being attacked, they begin to shut down. When you have an issue or a concern, stay in the moment. Don’t bring up all the times you’ve had the same issue in the past and how you are sick of talking about it. If you go down that route, just know that you are interested in a fight, not in any form of effective communication.
Do you know what most people find terribly annoying? Trying to have a conversation with someone who is glued to a television, laptop, smart phone or some other device. Technology is great, but sometimes you really have to give it a break.
If what you are doing is urgent, take a moment to express that to your spouse and indicate how long it will be before she gets your full attention. If it’s not that important, turn it off, put it away, and give your spouse your undivided attention. She deserves that much.
Communication is about expressing how you feel while truly listening to someone else’s thoughts and feelings. If you are able to do that without distractions, you have a much better chance of engaging in a process that leaves you both feeling heard and respected.
BMWK family, what tips do you have for instantly improving communication?