I am so glad we are done talking about the ugly and the scary. Did you find yourself in a few of those examples?
It’s okay, so did I.
Now we can move on to the good and the awesome.
Here are four communication styles that will help your marriage:
Let your spouse speak first. Listen to what they have to say. Don’t interrupt them, or speak over them. Do not plan out what you are going to say next while they are still talking. Stop fighting to be right, and instead seek solutions. Give in, surrender, and accept. Seek to protect their spirit through this argument, instead of trying to break it down.
Speak to this person like they are the one you love. You can be angry and you can have complaints, but you do not have to attack their character, and their whole being. Do not name call or taunt. Do not belittle or seek to break them down. Do not exaggerate and do give detailed examples. Avoid speaking in extremes with the words “always” and “never”. If you have a complaint in one area, don’t let that complaint cover every area of your relationship with them. Concede to the things they are doing right, and give them encouragement for their strengths, and the things you appreciate in them.
When you begin your conversation with them start with the word “I”. Most often we start with the word “YOU”, and we decide that we are not responsible for our feelings, but they are. “You didn’t even talk to me all night and you made me feel horrible.” No one can make you feel anything. We are all responsible for our feelings, and we choose them. If someone is mean to you, an appropriate response is sadness, but you could also choose to not let that person’s mean statement make you feel sad. Instead you might say something like, “I felt hurt tonight when you didn’t talk to me.” This is a responsible statement.
You also must simply stop making excuses or denying responsibility. It is painful sometimes to swallow our pride say, “I was wrong, I’m sorry” but it is actual very helpful. Sometimes a fight will continue on simply because the other person will not accept their clear responsibility in the event. Be quick to accept your part however small it might be, and apologize for it. If you’re husband snapped at you in front of your friends, he was wrong. But if YOU taunted him all night long and said disrespectful comments and belittled him, then you were wrong too. It is not about who was more wrong, or who was more right. It is about you both confessing your responsibility to each other, saying sorry, forgiving one another and finding solutions so that it doesn’t happen again.
Find ways to connect to one another even in an argument. Physical touch helps communication because it puts defenses down. Touching your spouse helps remind you that you are speaking to the one you love.
I can remember times when my husband and I fought, and we would resolve the issue. But we were sitting so far away from each other that it seemed almost awkward to connect physically again. My husband would often come over and give me a hug after the argument was over, and it felt forced and strange. Recently we started holding hands when we fight, and let me tell you- it is really hard to stay angry at each other when you are holding hands. Also? If you are one that run’s away when things get hard (me!), this helps you feel safe, connected, loved and strong enough to continue.
For more tips on communicating check out my post on 15 Fair Fighting Rules.
Carrington is a Christ follower, Wife and Mama to two adorable little ones. She loves to write about family, marriage, faith and natural living at her blog Organic Life Love.