Tips for Communicating with Your Spouse

Just because you are talking with your spouse does not mean you are communicating.  Communication is an active process.  It requires that you listen, talk and pay attention to non-verbal ques.  Communication requires that the speaker effectively articulate their concerns and for the listener to process, think about and respond to what they have heard.  This is a continuous process.  So here are 5 tips for communicating with your husband or boyfriend:

1.     If you are going to criticize your spouse use the sandwich method.  This is where you start and end with something positive and have your criticism in the middle.  This is a good method to use because it lessens the powerfulness of the negative comment.

2.     Listen to what your partner is saying.  A man’s language bank is not as large as us, women.  So his options for expressing himself are limited.  So listen to what he is saying. 

For example, if your husband is complaining that you never rub his back after a hard day at work.  Ask yourself, what is it that really is bothering him.  Is he really upset that you are not rubbing his back or is he upset that you are not acknowledging that he is a hard worker?

3.     Pick the proper place and time.  It may not be the best time to complain about him not taking out the trash when he is watching the football game.  Instead pick a time when you can have his full attention.  I am a firm believer that it is never to late to discuss your concerns, but doing so at a time when he will be responsive will make it more likely that you have a conversation instead of an argument.

4.     Look at his non-verbal ques.  80% of communication is non-verbal, so look at his body language.  Do not attempt to read his mind, but look to see if he looks uncomfortable, engaged, frustrated, or sad.  Then ask him about it. You can always say, “You look upset.  What is going on with you?”

5.     Be direct, just as you are not a mind reader, he is not a mind reader.  So if he is doing something you do not like focus on the behavior and not on him.  You can always say something like, “ When you do ____________.  It makes me feel like_________ (fill in the blank)”.

Learning to effectively communicate with your spouse can be one of the most difficult things you do in your relationship.  However, this is a skill, which will allow your relationship not only to grow but also flourish.  So start with the basics of communication – listen, think and then respond.  Effective communication is the difference between a nagging woman and a kool woman. 

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