Communication between a husband and a wife is of paramount importance to the health of a successful marital relationship. Failing marriages communicate less and less. There are fewer and fewer meaningful exchanges between the two people who occupy the marriage bond.
When communication falters, a marriage is in trouble. No problem was ever resolved, no divide ever bridged, and no disagreement ever broached without talking to each other.
The “heart of the matter” is this—successfully married couples report a high level of satisfaction with the way they communicate with each other. Happily married couples attribute their marital success first and foremost to the fact that they have honed their communication skills over time.
So, what are the lessons we have learned from those couples that communicate effectively on just about every level. As we poured over our interview notes from thousands of couples we have interviewed throughout the world, the following six techniques for talking with your spouse emerged:
1. Effective marital communication always begins with proper engagement. Talking about serious matters cannot occur effectively when dealing with chaos, such as a blaring television, crying baby, etc. Being ready to listen, accept and respond is crucial to insure positive engagement in the conversation.
2. Effective communication requires proper etiquette. Make direct eye contact, lower your voice, speak in a calm manner, listen intently and seek clarification if you don’t understand. Refrain from blaming, accusing, calling names, making nasty remarks or getting defensive.
3. Discussions about serious issues must always begin with agreement about what the issues really are. Work to identify the issue, establish the parameters of the discussion, and agree to solve the problem together. Side issues need to be left out of the conversation.
4. Brainstorming of ideas always begins any fruitful conversation about critical matters. It is important to get your respective ideas out on the table. Talk about the relative strengths and weaknesses of each. Agree on ideas worth exploring.
5. When dealing with a marital crisis avoid saying:
- It's your fault! Sometimes, a financial decision goes bad or your child gets in trouble at school. Blame doesn't work!
- I told you so! These four words are rarely ever used in successful marriages.
- Saying "I am upset with you about . . ." in a public setting.
- Why do you always . . . Focusing on your spouse’s weakness rather than building on their strengths will only increase their weakness and diminish their strength.
- Ask for your spouse's opinion and then do the opposite.
6. Never, we repeat, never be judgmental when debating issues with your mate. Instantly passing judgment on an idea is usually the death of open and honest debate between two people.
The successfully married couples we have interviewed over the past 30 years report to us that they never felt invalidated by their spouse, that they always felt their arguments were heard, and that their opinions always mattered. Learn the simple lessons of communication that these wonderful couples have taught us—and have now taught you how to talk to your spouse!
Creating a successful marriage is not always the easiest thing to do. Your visiting our blog suggests you are highly interested in making your relationship work! And truthfully, we have learned over 30 years of marriage research that there are proven effective ways to ensure a happy and healthy marriage. In fact, as love and marriage experts we took hundreds of tips from the thousands of happy couples we interviewed throughout the world and put them into our award-winning and bestselling book, Building a Love that Lasts.
By Drs. Charles and Elizabeth Schmitz
America's #1 Love and Marriage Experts
**Today, you can see how you stack up to the best marriages around the world. Take the Marriage Quiz to assess your chances of achieving a successful marriage of your own and buy How to Marry the Right Guy, to find out if your guy has the essential 33 characteristics to be a great husband.