One of our biggest challenges in marriage is lack of communication. I would take it a step farther to say that it’s not always lack of communication, but the fact we are communicating differently. What is important to one spouse is not important to the other.
Often, when we are trying to talk to each other about problems or difficulties, if we don’t find the same things important, it feels like we are talking at each other rather than to each other. We hear a lot about what we are saying, but how we are saying it is often more important.
Be open to another perspective
Just because something is important to you doesn’t mean your spouse sees it the same way. Relationships are about selflessness, so when we see things in that light, we put their needs, wants and feelings before ours.
The first step in communication is putting the other person’s perspective before ours. They could be off-base or totally dead wrong, but we have to take the time to try to see things from the other side. Nothing can be resolved if we don’t see their point of view so we can communicate in a fashion that takes their point into consideration first, then works toward a solution.
Take time to just listen
Speaking of solutions, most of us as men are wired to get things figured out. If we see a problem with something and we can come up with a solution, then we think it’s fixed, move on to the next challenge or get back to what we were doing.
Women sometimes simply need to be heard. They need to feel like their concern is legitimate and rather than us solving for x, they would simply like us to hear them and acknowledge their challenge. They may be able to figure it out in time, or they just need an ear to listen as the problem will work itself out.
Whatever the case, although we want to provide solutions, we have to navigate and discern when she wants us to listen and when she wants us to problem solve. Sometimes, we should simply ask what she would like from us (in a compassionate, not condescending tone).
Acknowledge your spouse’s concern
One of the techniques that helps my married clients the most is to remind them the marriage is bigger than both of them. When we communicate through problems, remember the ultimate goal is to make things better for both of us together, as a married couple. That means sometimes, one or the other will have to sacrifice. That means there are times the greater good will override short-term gains and couples have to make decisions based on that accordingly.
My wife should always be aware that her concern is my concern and vice-versa. We should communicate this point clearly—our needs cumulatively are greater than any of my wants or my feelings. When your spouse understands that his or her needs are paramount, communication becomes a lot easier.
Seeing another’s perspective, taking time to just listen, and acknowledging concerns are approaches in how we communicate. There are many others. My main point is to consider how you approaching what you need to share with your spouse and how you listen to your spouse. You will go a long way in becoming better in communication in your relationship.
BMWK, how well are you communicating in your marriage?