When I started my life and relationship coach training 10 years ago, one of the greatest lessons we learned was how to communicate. We were taught active listening, how to pay attention to body language and to be aware of what wasn’t being said. I walked away knowing quite a few things. One being, people want confirmation they’ve been heard, but won’t always come right out and say what they need; which sometimes leaves the person they are communicating with stuck and confused.
Couples can send so many mixed messages in their communication, and here is where many of the struggles in our relationships dwell. You may think you’re doing an excellent job in expressing yourself, while your spouse, on the other hand, is stumped. Your communication won’t work simply because you want it to. You have to be intentional and remember to include the following key communication ingredients.
Here are 7 characteristics of couples that can talk about anything:
1. They Listen.
Listening means to give attention with the ear; attend closely for the purpose of hearing; give ear. Listening to what’s being said isn’t always enough. Yes, you must listen attentively without the mental distractions of judgement and planning what you’re going to say next. Couples must also listen to the non verbal communication cues your spouse is sending. The body speaks the truth. Carefully watch facial expressions and body language. They don’t lie.
2. They Understand.
Understanding is defined as a state of cooperative or mutually tolerant relations between people. It is just as necessary. When you understand your partner’s perspective, it makes arriving at a solution that much easier. Being sensitive to your spouse’s needs will ease their worries and make them feel more like opening up to you.
3. They Acknowledge.
Acknowledging, which means to show or express recognition or realization of, is key because people just want to know they are being heard. Being able to repeat back what they’ve said and letting them know you really hear them will transform the way you both communicate.
4. They Ask Questions.
Clarity is also critical and is defined as clearness or lucidity as to perception or understanding; freedom from indistinctness or ambiguity. You must ask questions whenever you are unclear of what your partner is requesting of you. This is where a lot of confusion happens. Because we think we’re clear and we’re not. Ask those clarifying questions whenever necessary in order for you and your partner to remain on the same page.
5. They Validate.
Validation means to make valid; substantiate; confirm. This will truly change the way you and your partner exchange information. Even if how our spouse is feeling makes no sense to us, they still need to know their feelings are valid. And they need to hear it from us.
6. They Forgive.
Forgiveness is to cease to feel resentment against. It is one of the most challenging actions to take, but definitely the most rewarding. We must release the hurtful words said in the past that we’re still holding on to. We have to be willing to heal, apologize or ask for forgiveness and move forward.
7. They Affirm.
Affirmation, which means emotional support or encouragement, is often forgotten in marriage. With all of the obstacles some couples have to overcome, it feels good to know when you’re doing something right. Make sure your partner hears you affirming them. Thank them for loving you. Praise them for taking good care of the children or managing the household. Remember being affirmed feels amazing. Give that gift to your spouse.
Communication is the biggest stumbling block most couples face. Keeping in mind these key communication ingredients will definitely reduce the majority of the stress you feel when it comes to sharing with your spouse.
BMWK, are you using these key communication ingredients?