When I started dating my husband years ago, I remember getting so mad when he didn’t feel like discussing an issue that came up. I would keep asking questions and pushing the issue until he said something. The thing is, that rarely got me anywhere.
He would get annoyed and shut down even more, and I would get angrier and ask more questions—until I realized I was talking to myself. It wasn’t cute.
One day, I had an “aha” moment. I realized my approach was way off, and it was leaving both of us more upset than the original issues we needed to discuss.
That was when I realized how critical communication is when it comes to building and sustaining a healthy relationship. I realized that wanting things my way would never help us grow as a couple. To grow, we both had to change how we looked at communication and the role it would forever play in our ability to love and support one another.
What I was doing all those years ago was ruining my ability to communicate with my then boyfriend. If I wasn’t able to be introspective enough to look at what was going wrong, who knows if we would be happily married today.
If you want to improve communication with your spouse, here are five things you need to avoid because they will surely ruin your ability to communicate effectively.
1. Poor Timing
This was once my biggest communication misstep. When an issue would come up, I wanted to discuss it right then and there. I had no consideration for what the timing was like or if my man felt like talking about the issue. I just pushed. I later realized that timing is everything.
If your man has been at work all day and spends more than hours commuting, chances are, he’s not interested in a deep conversation when he finally gets home from work. If someone is not in the right state of mind to receive your message, what you have to say doesn’t even matter. Don’t just think about how you feel when you want to talk. Consider how your spouse feels as well.
2. Ineffective Listening
Sometimes, we are so caught up in what we want to say, we truly aren’t listening to what our spouse is saying. Listening is one of the most important parts of communication. If you can’t listen well, you can’t communicate effectively. Once you are able to develop your listening skills, you have a better understanding of how your spouse feels. And that leaves you more equipped to communicate your own feelings.
3. Your Tone and Body Language
Yelling, rolling your eyes and having an attitude are sure ways to get someone to shut down. Your non-verbal communication habits are as important as what you express verbally. When you communicate with your spouse, you have to do things that will increase the likelihood that you will be heard.
When people feel like they are being disrespected or talked down to, they have a tendency to get defensive and shut down—even if the comments are really valid and important. Be mindful of your tone and your body language because they both have the ability to ruin the message you want to get across.
4. Lack of Focus
You can’t use every conversation as an opportunity to bring up old stuff that has nothing to do with the current issue being discussed. You have to deal with issues as they come along. And when you decide you want to discuss a concern, you have to stay on topic.
When a simple conversation turns into an ambush, your spouse will begin to feel like every conversation will go that way, and he’ll begin hiding whenever you want to talk.
5. Your Need to Be Right
You have to ask yourself if you want to be right or if you want to live in a peaceful home. You can’t be dead set on winning every argument you have with your spouse. If you walk into every discussion determined to prove that you are right and he is wrong, you taint the communication process before it even begins.
Walk into your discussions with an open mind and an open heart. And consider the possibility that maybe—just maybe—you are not always right.
BMWK family, what other things might ruin your ability to communicate with your spouse? If you’ve done these things, how did you fix them?
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