Enhancing Communication in Your Marriage
Help your mate take off their mask. The smallest hurt that occurred in the past or the present can prompt your mate to cover up with a mask. To remove the mask, show your mate unconditional love and acceptance. Be transparent about your own weaknesses and hurts. Your own transparency and acceptance will help free your mate to trust you with their pain and needs.
If you are married to a controller, a blamer, or a criticizer, realize you are not going to change your spouse. You can only change your own behavior and way of interacting and then allow your spouse to decide to change. Be as positive as possible, but don’t give in to their games. Use truth and honesty to communicate your perspective. Pray that God will uncover their eyes so they won’t be blind to the hurt they’re causing you.
Keep communicating through the conflicts. It’s tough to communicate during tough times. Even the smallest trials can drive a wedge between husband and wife. Don’t let trials isolate you in your thoughts, invite denial or the belief that you can handle it all alone, or make you feel like no one understands. Welcome help and comfort—don’t lock your spouse out. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, it could save your marriage.
Dare to open up. Ask your mate 3 critical questions:
- “What’s the problem? ”Reiterate that the problem isn’t yours. The problem is something outside you, and you’re battling it together. Name the battle and tackle it together. Decide: Together we will tackle the problem, and stay together no matter what it takes.
- “What do we need from each other? ”After you have defined the problem, ask yourselves what kind of help you need to solve it. Identify areas where you have the strength and know-how to support each other. Do you need the other to step in with a decision? Do you need some space? Perhaps you need your spouse to seek God’s truth with you in his Word and through prayer.
- “What kind of outside help do we need? ”Resolving a trial or crisis is often beyond your ability. God wants to put other people in your life to lift you up. Make a list of the people you need and what they can do for you. The greatest resource to meet your need, of course, is God.
Learn the basics of communication.
- Express your thoughts and feelings. Sort what you want to say into three categories—what you think, what you feel, and what you need. Then start talking. Give details, ask clarifying questions, and don’t expect your mate to read your mind. (Wives, give your husband the bottom line up front. Husbands, include plenty of detail with your main point to make communication more enjoyable for your wife.)
- Listening is the key to understanding your spouse’s needs. Start by saying to your mate, “Sometimes I feel as if I don’t have your attention when we talk.” Maintain eye contact. Don’t jump in with a solution. Ask your mate his or her needs, and how you can best meet them!
- The point of responding is to clarify and fully understand what your spouse is saying. Men tend to try to fix the situation, get angry, or withdraw. Women tend to seek security, reassurance, and a sympathetic ear from their husbands. Husbands, give your wife your empathy and understanding so that she feels emotionally connected to you. Then she may be ready for suggestions on what to do.
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