Men and women sometimes have different communication styles but even if you and your husband normally communicate well, during stressful times and communication may become difficult. Those are often the times communication is most important, though. Not communicating or communicating poorly during times of stress often leads to misunderstandings, hurt feelings, feelings of loneliness and isolation, and strain on the marriage.
Stay as calm as possible. In times of great stress, you may be feeling anxious, angry, frightened, or depressed (or all those things and more) and your husband may be feeling the same. Yelling, using an angry tone of voice, and talking very fast can make it hard for your husband to listen to you and increase the likelihood that he’ll end up getting angry or defensive, too.
Share your feelings in a respectful way. Don’t blame your husband for how you feel. For instance, say something like, “I feel angry and hurt when you don’t come home on time and don’t call to say you’re going to be late,” instead of, “You make me mad when you’re so inconsiderate you don’t even call to say you’re going to be late.” Show respect for your husband’s feelings, too.
Practice good listening skills. Listen without interrupting, then repeat back what you heard your husband say in your own words to make sure you understood him.
Take a time out if needed. If you or your husband become very emotional or have trouble remaining respectful, take a break. Come back to finish talking when you’ve both calmed down some.
Communicate the good as well as the bad. Don’t forget to say thank your or tell your husband you love him. Remember non-verbal forms of communication, like hugs, holding hands, or even something as simple as a gentle touch on the arm.
Agree to disagree sometimes. Sometimes couples must come to an agreement about what to do about something, like whether or not to sell your home during a time of financial insecurity. Other times, though, it might be nice if you felt the same about something but you can agree to disagree and respect each other’s opinions.
Keep talking. Some people tend to withdraw and keep things to themselves in times of stress, but that often just creates additional stress in relationships. Keep the lines of communication open and be willing to discuss difficult subjects.
Consider seeing a marriage counselor if you and your husband have a lot of trouble communicating during stressful times. You can use the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy therapist locator tool (see the resources section) to find a qualified marriage counselor in your area.
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