Sometimes, when my husband does something that gets on my nerves, I give him the side-eye. Is that the best way to communicate how I feel? Probably not, but sometimes it’s juts the first reaction I have. I know I’m not the only one.
We are at a point in our relationship where my husband knows what that look means without me having to say much, but even with that, the look simply isn’t going to cut it. It’s not powerful enough to convey my specific feelings about something he did or said. For our relationship to stand the test of time, he needs more than that.
As someone who studied communication in college, I do understand the importance and the power of nonverbal communication. However, I also understand that a marriage cannot survive or thrive simply from nonverbal cues. Husbands and wives need much more than that if they want to feel happy and heard.
If the side-eye is becoming your way of getting your point across, I think reading this may help. If you think avoidance is a valid way to handle marital issues, these tips can change things for you. And if communicating effectively seems to be the one thing you both can’t get right, this may be exactly what you need in your life.
Here are six things that can help you become a better communicator in your marriage.
Take a minute to calm down
It’s hard to get your point across clearly and concisely when you are all fired up. If you need to talk to your spouse about something that has you pissed off, take a moment before you say a word. Go for a walk. Workout. Get a good night of sleep. Pray. Do whatever it is that you need to do in order to calm down, so you can express yourself from a place of clarity rather than a place of rage. Your spouse really isn’t listening to anything you have to say if you are screaming and hollering when you say it.
Take it easy with the nonverbal stuff
The side-eye, the neck rolling, the pointing fingers, the crossed arms and the “let me stare at my cell phone while you talk,” are all horrible nonverbal cues that send a loud message that you already have your mind made up and you have no interest in engaging in a meaningful conversation. If you truly want to discuss anything with your spouse, you have to put away the attitude along with the negative nonverbal cues because these things won’t get you anywhere.
Save the finger-pointing tactics
Even if your spouse is dead wrong, he will not hear you out if you start off by pointing fingers at him. If you think the conversation is worth having, you have to find a way to speak your piece without making the other person feel defensive. Focus on what you did or how you feel, and refrain from placing blame.
Don’t forget the importance of timing
I know you need to have this discussion before you go to bed, but if your spouse has just worked a 12-hour day and sat in traffic for two hours to get home, you need to fall back. Timing is everything when it comes to effective communication. Try to settle on a time that works for both of you. There may never be a perfect time, but you can at least avoid the times that are truly horrible.
Focus on being heard instead of being right
If you just want to be right, you can go to bed and leave it alone. Nothing is accomplished just by feeling like you are right, though. If you really want to have an open, honest discussion about how you feel and what you need, you have to let go of the need to be right and focus, instead, on being heard. When people communicate, they want to be heard more than anything else.
Listen; and truly open your ears
I think everyone should take a course on listening skills at some point. If you are unable to listen effectively, you simply cannot communicate well. You may hear what your spouse is saying, but you have to ask yourself if you are truly listening. The ability to listen well is a skill set we all must practice. Focusing on what someone is saying and asking follow-up questions to ensure you got it right is one of the most important things you can do when communicating with your spouse.
BMWK family, are you a good communicator? How do you know?