Several years ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing author Jewell Powell. She had just penned the book Marriage 101. After speaking with several couples last month, we learned that many are struggling with effective communication in their marriage. So I pulled this book back out because Powell shares some great tips on the function of marriage.
Effective Communication is key to any relationship and marriage is definitely a relationship. Communication must be cultivated and consistently and consciously worked on. In her book, Powell shares 15 tips that will improve your communication within your marriage and/or relationship. It would behoove you to write these tips down and integrate these into your daily communication style.
15 Ways to Communicate Effectively with Your Spouse
- Listen attentively while your spouse is speaking, rather than concentrating on what you are going to say in response. This way, you can hear what your spouse is really saying. You may be also able to hear what your spouse is not saying, as well as what he is.
- Learn to speak the same things (for example, you want to live debt free or have a happy, fulfilling marriage). If you are speaking the same things, you are in agreement. The scriptures ask, “Can two walk together unless they are in agreement?” The answer is no. Therefore, agreement is very important in a marriage.
- Make eye-to-eye contact when you are speaking. Eyes will reveal anger, pain, sickness, and so on. Eye-to-eye contact also creates a connection between you and your spouse.
- Think before you speak, thereby giving yourself time to speak your words with love. People are easily offended. Once anger or offense enters the conversation, the person who is offended stops listening and goes on the defensive. So think carefully before you speak.
- Pray together. Again, this brings agreement, but more importantly, brings God into the conversation.
- Dream together and write a vision. Understanding the purpose for your marriage should drive you and your spouse to accomplish God’s will for your life. Whether His reason is for you to raise your children a certain way, to start a business, to start a non-profit organization, to start a prayer meeting in your community, or to sing, every couple has a purpose.
- Know your spouse and why she does what she does (for example, is it based on her upbringing? military background? being from a single-parent home? growing up poor?). Knowing this will help you to communicate more effectively. For example, if your spouse grew up poor, then you can understand why she responds a certain way when you spend a lot of money. Because of your spouse’s past, she might be used to people telling her to not spend as much or feelings of poverty may rear their ugly head.
- Communicate with your spouse—he is not a mind reader. You must communicate your wants and desires.
- Know what your spouse expects from you (such as dinner every night, or a phone call to let her know you are okay). You have been with your spouse long enough to know what she expects.
- Understand what your mate is trying to say. Men are definitely from Mars and women are definitely from Venus. We can speak the same things, but in different ways. Understanding your spouse’s background and gender, and knowing his heart, will help you to decipher what he is really trying to say. For example, your spouse may have a hard time expressing love verbally but may be able to express it physically, giving you hugs or kisses that say, “I love you.”
- Forgive one another. Every marriage, including yours, will get to a point at which your spouse will do something to hurt you. At the end of that day, make up in your mind to forgive your spouse. If you don’t, that unforgiveness will grow day by day until your heart is hardened or your ears get dull and you no longer want to hear what he has to say. Those are walls that start the separation process. Don’t let that happen. Forgive and move on. God says that He gives us new mercies every day; therefore, because He has given freely, you should give freely, too.
- Complement and say “I love you” and “I appreciate you” often. By doing this every day, this is something that can keep a marriage peaceful and strong.
- Know the best time to talk with your mate. If your spouse is not a morning person, 7 AM is not the best time to have a serious conversation. If your spouse needs an hour after work to relax, wait to have that heart-to-heart.
- Conduct family meetings regularly. This allows you to discuss what’s going on with the child(ren), plan dates and vacations, agree about large purchases, and other important matters.
- Control your emotions. Keep your mouth shut! DO NOT discuss issues when either of you is upset. If your spouse is trying to discuss a matter while angry, find a way to let her cool off first. For example, excuse yourself to the bathroom and go pray. If you are the one who is upset, definitely pray first and wait until you are able to speak nicely.
When you have communicated YOUR WAY with no pushback, it’s hard to change the way you listen, hear, and articulate your feelings. However, to have a marriage that is open, honest and transparent, you must improve your communication style to fit your spouse.
Which of the above communication tips do you need to implement NOW?
© Jewell R. Powell, the Marriage Coach and author of Marriage 101: Building a Life Together by Faith. For more information, visit www.marriage101.us