Ever felt like something in your marriage was a little off? It’s not that there’s a huge issue to sort out necessarily. It’s that you’re just aren’t connecting the way you should and you know you both could do so much better.
All things considered, it’s safer to conclude that all marriages have conflicts at varying levels facing them. From time to time, we all deal with his silent treatment instead of talking when he’s upset; her paying more attention to the children’s homework than to the details of his day at work; neither of you can quite agree on the shower temperature and therefore, have resigned yourselves from ever taking a shower together. This, you often tell yourself, is just what happens a couple of years after the wedding, right? Because, sure, you’re not fighting, and nobody’s having an affair.
The coping mechanisms we develop as a way of dealing with what we cannot get our way around, may not only determine how we experience marriage, but also how long a distance the relationship will go.
Pinpointing the challenges that relate to communication can be difficult for some couples. Usually, at least one partner struggles with recognising that their style of communication may be ineffective for their partner. Even though a couple may disagree about a number of things, it most often leads back to how they talk to one another.
If you’re wondering if your marriage needs better communication here are six of many of the signs that let you know for sure and what you can do about it.
1. If nothing seems to ever get resolved with your disagreements.
A couple who continues to argue about the same things without a resolution in sight definitely needs better communication. It often means someone isn’t listening or isn’t expressing themselves clearly.
You can improve by setting rules of engagement with your partner. Prior to having a heart to heart with your spouse, determine what goes and what doesn’t. A few examples include promising to listen without interrupting or being solution focused instead of finger pointing. Establishing communication rules will help to keep both partners on track.
2. If you’re not talking as much as you used to.
There is just too much that happens in life and within a relationship that needs to be discussed. How you feel, what you need and why must be shared with your partner. A couple whose marriage has gone silent will need to figure out why, because silence is not golden in marriage. How will you know where your partner is mentally, emotionally or spiritually if you aren’t talking like you used to?
You can improve in this area by starting small and then building back up to how you used to communicate. Asking how your spouse’s day was or what made them smile that day is a good start.
3. If the opposite of what’s being said is being done.
If you or your spouse are saying one thing and doing something different, there is a possible disconnect in your communication. One thing we all have that people come to trust is our word. When it isn’t clear or doesn’t match our actions it affects our reputation and the amount of trust people will put into us, spouse included. Couples must be careful with their words and make sure they can support them.
You can improve by being clear and honest in your communication. It’s okay to say you don’t know, or to even ask for time to figure things out. Being truthful and doing what you say you will do will benefit your marriage significantly.
4. If you’re more frustrated after the conversation, and every little thing turns bigger and out of control.
Your marriage needs better communication and more understanding if every little thing is a trigger for you and your spouse. It may seem as though you’ve lost patience with one another.
You can get it back by remembering the love you have for your spouse. Also using a technique called the power of the pause. We apply this more during our conflict resolution sessions with couples. It reminds people of how much power there is in pausing during a disagreement. When you pause, you can determine why you’re so upset and also reconsider your actions in order to get the positive response you’re seeking before you respond negatively.
5. If you’re not clarifying, acknowledging or validating…something’s wrong.
In order for communication to improve in your relationship you have to be willing to do all of these things. Clarifying helps you to be sure you’ve heard what you’ve heard. It’s important that you and your spouse are on the same page. Acknowledging what your spouse is saying and how they feel will help them feel safe about opening up. Validating it, even if you don’t understand shows compassion. It’s okay to say “I totally understand why you may feel this way.” That statement doesn’t make anyone right or wrong, it simply shows you understand their position.
6. If things become consistently one-sided.
This is a major breaker in many relationships. When one person in the relationship has the sole responsibility of controlling all lines of communication, all plans, and all decisions, it’s time to pay attention. It may be that the controlling partner throws tantrums or panics or refuses to listen to the other. It may be that the idle partner has washed their hands of all responsibility.