It would take an entire book in itself to touch on every different communication style. If you Google different communication personality types, you’ll find a range of categories you can fall into that vary based on the system used or who came up with it. However, there are a few things that affect assertive communication in your marriage. They can also influence your communication style so it’s important to understand what they are when trying to communicate with your spouse clearly.
5 Ways to Strengthen Assertive Communication in Your Marriage
In this article:
- Compliant and Non-Compliant
- Communicate intentionally and often
- Provide a safe place for a compliant spouse
- Compliant spouse – Speak up!
- Talk about your marriage
- Learn your spouse’s cues
Compliant and Non-Compliant
Some people are people pleasers. Their main goal is to avoid conflict. They want to do what they can to make and keep others happy. They rarely utlize assertive communication skills. These people are more compliant with others around them. Others are not. They don’t mind confrontation. They don’t hesitate in speaking their minds, and their opinion can come regardless of how the other person feels.
Most people don’t fall at the extreme ends of the spectrum and their traits will lie somewhere in the middle, but whether you are opposites or two of the same, the personality types can cause balance when they work, and challenges when they don’t.
When you have a marriage with someone who aims to please and someone who does not, the compliant spouse may go along to keep the peace. If the non-compliant spouse is not adept at reading the other spouse’s signals, and the compliant spouse doesn’t get skilled speaking up, the more assertive spouse will more often than not get his or her way. The compliant spouse doesn’t speak up; meanwhile, the other spouse thinks that everything is great and running smoothly.
This type of set up can breed resentment in both the compliant spouse and the non-compliant spouse. Sometimes the compliant spouse may hold it all in until she blows up, confusing the one on the receiving end. If you fall into this category, there are a few things you need to remember to keep communication running smoothly:
Communicate intentionally and often
This is important if one person in the relationship is more hesitant to speak his or her mind. Assertive communication takes practice. So, giving your spouse consistent time and a safe space to communicate is important. This ensures that his voice is not only heard but given equal weight.
Providing a safe space for the compliant spouse
The pleaser’s main hesitation is the possibility of confrontation. Make sure if you’re on the non-pleasing side that you are able to hear and listen without interrupting. Additionally, provide a comfortable space for your spouse to express him or herself. Don’t assume everything is fine and don’t make the complaint spouse feel like he or she is shot down for having opinions.
Compliant spouse—speak up
You are not being fair to the other person by not being open. Making your voice heard is a part of being honest. Omitting information isn’t far away from telling a lie. Your marriage needs your voice, so make sure you use it. Assertive communication doesn’t have to be aggressive. It just has to be.
But what if your personalities don’t lie on opposite ends? What if you’re both the same? If you are both compliant, you have a tendency to shy away from the issues. Problems in the marriage may not be confronted or resolved at all if you don’t communicate often.
Regularly take time talk about your marriage
You may want to have a few focus areas that you touch on regularly since it might not be natural to talk about conflict immediately.
Learn to read each other’s cues
Over time, it becomes easier to tell when your partner isn’t spilling what is on her mind. If she looks like she’s holding back, ask. Understand that holding it in is only hurting your marriage. Maybe it seems that keeping things conflict-free is always the solution, but if you aren’t advocating for yourself, you stop advocating for your marriage.
Don’t be afraid to face the conflict. Disagreements are a natural part of any relationship and are necessary for relationship growth. And what if neither of you is compliant? The challenge for two non-pleasers won’t be that you have difficulty saying what’s on your mind. Your challenge when the systems go awry is that you will have a more difficult time coming to an agreement. You may have to put in a little more work to agree and will benefit from conflict management. The following tips will be
important to you in being able to communicate with each other without fighting:
- Know who you are and be honest about it – Some people are clear that they are assertive when it comes to getting their way; others aren’t as clear on where they stand. Once you know that you both share similar traits when it comes to being non-pleasers, it will be easier to manage your communications challenges.
- Know that sometimes, one of you will have to submit – Ideally, every disagreement would be solved by each spouse coming to a mutually agreeable solution that leaves everyone equally happy. But this is the real world. At times compromise will take more on the part of one person. There will be points where one of you may have to give up a little more to get along.
Communication is at the heart of everything we do in marriage. Whether it’s through daily interactions or through managing disagreements, our successes and failures in marriage hinge upon what and how we’re communicating to our spouses with our words and our actions.
BMWK, are you using assertive communication to keep your marriage flowing positively?
Editor’s Note – This post was originally published on January 3, 2018, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.