Tips on Communicating with Your Spouse
Arguments are bound to happen from time to time but if your house feels like a fighting ring, you may need some communications skills. Here are some tips of how to communicate better:
- Avoid Defensiveness – This usually happens when we feel attacked or accused unfairly. Our little lawyer pops his head and we feel like we have to ward off the attack with excuses and justifications. When we get defensive, we rarely deal with the problem at hand. Defensiveness causes one of the partners to detach from the relationship because it is too difficult to discuss any problems.
- Seek to Validate – When you are defensive it sends the message to your partner that their concerns are not valid. Try not to minimize the other person’s concerns, but listen intently without defending yourself. Validating is not agreeing with what your spouse is saying, but having a willingness to accept that his/her perspective is real for them.
- Choose the Time – Timing can make the difference between a successful conversation and a quarrel. It is good not only to ask yourself if this is a good time, but also literally ask the other person if this is a good time for them to speak about a particular subject. If they say yes- continue on! If they say no, come up with a time that might work. Even if the time might be another day or the weekend. It is best to wait until you are both ready to deal with the matter.
- Don’t Criticize – Focus and attack the problem, not the person. Be honest with your complaint, but don’t personalize it. If your spouse has a complaint about you, try to be like a Customer Service Representative. Listen to the complaint with good customer service in mind.
- Never Stonewall – This happens when you refuse to engage in conversation and give the other person the silent treatment. You shut down and withdraw from the relationship. This can be very damaging! You may think you are keeping the peace, but it is very rejecting and it builds walls between the two of you.
- Take a Time Out – You may need a time out if any of these occur: name calling, blaming, sneering, getting even, bringing up the past, or making excuses. It’s best to say let’s talk about this in an hour, or again in the afternoon. If tempers are still high, it is best to put it off for another day. However, it is important to give the other spouse a time when you would be willing to listen without the fouls.
- Take Responsibility – Always acknowledge your part without shifting the blame onto your spouse. This can become a cycle of finger pointing and prevents resolutions to problems. Even if your spouse is 90% wrong- that still means you can acknowledge your 10%.
Communicating and Fighting Fair are important skills. Are my words going to build up my spouse or destroy? Call us to learn these skills and help you resolve problems in a positive way.
2403 Ritter Drive
Jonesboro, AR 72404