Couples make themselves vulnerable to each other in marriage and this vulnerability necessitates patterns of healthy communication in order for the marital relationship to thrive. Communication contributes to relational health, a positive sense of self-identity and purpose in life. By communicating your feelings to your wife in positive ways, you encourage healthy patterns of interaction between the two of you, validate personal identity and nurture the long-term growth of your bond together. Positive communication has the power to help you both feel understood and happier in your relationship together.
Set communication ground rules with your spouse to ensure you are both heard. Include guidelines that discourage yelling, arguing, insulting or shutting down. Encourage communication guidelines that foster intimacy, such as eye contact, taking personal responsibility, speaking in a calm voice and remaining engaged until any conflict is resolved.
Plan routine times for communication with your wife. If you have communication challenges, they likely developed over time and did not materialize overnight. It will take time for you to foster more open communication, so do not expect to clear everything up in one meeting together. Consider planning daily, weekly, monthly and annual times to meet and focus intently on communicating with one another.
Structure your daily communication time so that it meets your needs as a couple and gives you plenty of time to express your feelings to one another. Consider a routine where you list three appreciations for one another, tell each other about everything that happened in your day, discuss the best and worst parts of your day, share any concerns and end with a ritual of prayer, a hug or some other positive gesture toward one another.
Keep your side of the street clean and take responsibility for what you say. Instead of telling your wife that she is inconsiderate because she works too late into the evening, consider framing the issue in a positive and supportive manner by saying something like, "I miss you at night and feel lonely. I want to share my evenings with you and enjoy time with you." In this example, you avoid blaming her and instead discuss your feelings and experiences in the first person.
Listen intently to your wife's response to what you share with her. Pay attention to her feelings, whether she shares them verbally or non-verbally. Resolve to care just as much about her feelings as you want her to care about yours. Apologize when you have done something wrong and vow to change your behaviors.
Resolve conflicts together with your wife. You cannot fix your communication problems alone, even if you are the one to get the ball rolling. Commit to working on any misunderstandings in a loving way until you both feel heard and understood, even if you do not always agree.
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- The Routledge Handbook of Family Communication
- Journal of Social and Personal Relationships: Disconfirming communication and self-verification in marriage: Associations among the demand/withdraw interaction pattern, feeling understood, and marital satisfaction
- Journal of Family Psychology: Integrating family routines and rituals with other family research paradigms
- If you and your wife have problems resolving your communication challenges on your own, despite your best efforts, consider meeting with a psychologist, family therapist or pastoral counselor who can help you with the specific issues you two face together.
Anne Kinsey is a Certified Trauma Recovery Coach and missionary, residing in rural North Carolina. She is the founder of Love Powered Life, a nonprofit organization with the mission of creating loving community for trafficking survivors and their families. Anne has enjoyed writing for publications like Working Mother, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Houston Chronicle, Bizfluent and Career Trend. She resides in rural North Carolina with her husband, three children and a house full of furry friends.