…… And How to Make It Right
Healthy and consistent communication is a must in marriage, yet so many married couples struggle with this. Why is this? What makes our conversations with our spouse go south? Here are four ways we often ruin a conversation with our spouse (and how we can make it right):
we need to approach our spouse in a respectful and positive way, and concerns should usually be addressed privately.
- Be critical of what your spouse has to say.
Married couples don’t try to fall into this negative dynamic. It happens little by little, and it is often rooted in pride. Criticism can take on a variety of forms from passive aggressiveness to abrupt and even harsh directness. Both approaches carry the same amount of sting.
A critical spouse often feels like they need to correct almost everything their spouse says. Sometimes the spouse feels like they need to one-up whatever their spouse says and does, and the critical spouse is quick to point this out every time. If they see a mistake or flaw of any kind, the critical spouse lets their spouse know it, in private and/or in public. Little by little, the criticized spouse feels unloved and disrespected, and the relationship breaks down.
Instead of this negative approach, we need to resist being critical of our spouse. As much as possible, we need to overlook the petty stuff that may get on our nerves. We need to make a conscious effort to compliment them and build them up! If our spouse does something wrong or we need to point something out to them, then we need to address it. However, we need to approach our spouse in a respectful and positive way, and concerns should usually be addressed privately.
- Be a poor listener.
There are times when our spouse wants to talk about something, but we don’t feel like talking about it at the moment. So, instead of telling them how we truly feel or offering our listening ear, we end up barely listening while we think about other things. Sometimes, we only hear part of what our spouse is trying to say and miss the whole picture, because we are thinking about our own response the whole time. This only leads to more frustration and ultimately ends the conversation.
Instead, we need to give our spouse our best attention by looking them in their eyes and listening without distractions or wandering thoughts. This will allow us to really hear what our spouse has to say, and it will cultivate a closer connection.
- Respond with accusing words like “You never…” or “You always…”.
These words will lead to a fight. They are often said in a derogatory fashion, and they rarely help the conversation. One spouse may say, “You never listen to me,” and then the other might say, “Well, you alwayssay the same thing, so why should I listen to you?”–and on and on. It’s maddening and hurtful.
These words aren’t inherently bad; it depends on how we use them.
Instead, try using these words in a positive light by saying things like, “You always know how to brighten up my day,” or “You never give up, and I love that about you.” This will make your spouse feel like a million bucks, and it will definitely keep the conversation going in the right direction.
- Use one-word responses like “Fine” or “Whatever” or “Okay.”
These words are ones we use to end conversations–not keep them going. We often say these when we don’t know what else to say or we’re just too tired to come up with a response at the moment.
Instead of shutting things down, we need to offer our spouse a more mindful response. This is easier said than done, but a more engaged response will show your spouse that you really care about them and how they feel. So, before we are quick to offer a short, mindless response, let’s take a moment to listen and offer our spouse a thoughtful response.
For more on how to communicate well and cultivate more connection in your marriage, check out, The Naked Marriage Podcast. Be blessed!