our everyday life

How to Become a Better Communicator With a Spouse

by C. Giles

If you feel that your spouse doesn't understand or listen to you, you need to sit down together to discuss how to communicate in a more productive way. Miscommunication isn't unusual in a marriage and isn't necessarily a reflection of an unhealthy relationship. Sometimes couples think they understand each other, when the opposite is true. By taking the time to work on improving your communication skills, you can stop discussions from turning into arguments and nip problems in the bud before they get out of hand.

Keep Your Emotions in Check

When you want to communicate with your spouse, it's essential that you relax and maintain control of your emotions, words and actions, notes Roland Warren, President of the National Fatherhood Initiative, in an Oprah.com article. Before you begin your discussion, think about how you are feeling and work out the best way to convey this to your partner. For example, you may be feeling angry and frustrated because your husband doesn't do his share of the household chores. Your instinct might be to just shout at him, but you need to consider what this would achieve. Taking a few minutes to calm down and plan what you want to say will help keep any conflict to a minimum.

Stay Focused

Choosing the right time and place to talk to your spouse is important. Making sure you are in a comfortable environment with no distractions will help you stay present, according to GoodTherapy.org. When you want to communicate certain points to your spouse, stay focused on those points. Don't give into the temptation to bring up other issues or complaints during the conversation; stick to the issue or issues at hand. Further, avoid insults and accusations. Keep in mind that your aim is to become a better communicator with your partner to improve your relationship and develop a deeper mutual understanding, not to cause hurt or conflict.

Use Objective Language

Thinking of your words as tools will help you become a more effective communicator. Remember that your spouse is less likely to perceive "I" statements as accusations; for example, she will probably respond more positively if you say, "I feel really unhappy when you criticize me" than if you say, "You always criticize me." It's helpful to follow up your statement with a question, such as "Do you understand why I feel this way?" You need to give your spouse the chance to respond. Even if you don't agree with what she is saying, make sure you really listen to her and resist the temptation to interrupt.

Try to Empathize

Putting yourself in your spouse's shoes will help you understand his point of view. Try to relate to how he is feeling and look for common ground, advises GoodTherapy.org. You might both feel frustrated about the same issue in your relationship, but because you haven't communicated this to each other, you both might also harbor feelings of resentment. For example, if your spouse is working a lot of overtime, you might resent having to do more things around the house. At the same time, he might feel resentment because he has to put in such long hours at work so you can afford to complete improvements on the house. If you try to imagine what it's like working at an office for long hours, it can help ease your anger and extinguish your resentment. If you share your frustrations, you will likely find a common ground -- and then can provide each other with encouragement to continue with the current arrangement or find a viable compromise.

About the Author

C. Giles is a writer with an MA (Hons) in English literature and a post-graduate diploma in law. Her work has been published in several publications, both online and offline, including "The Herald," "The Big Issue" and "Daily Record."

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images