Communication is oxygen to a marriage.
Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it”? That could not be more accurate when communicating with your spouse. Simple adjustments can make a world of difference when you are sharing concerns with them. Here are a few tried and true phrases that promote active listening, transparency, and connection.
“What I hear you saying is…”
Often, our spouse will use a specific phrase that triggers a past hurt or causes defensiveness to rise within us. Their body language can also tell a different story than they want to communicate. Mirroring what you hear allows them to clarify their heart and shows that you genuinely want to understand them.
“I need to feel…”
Take a moment to observe the difference between these two phrases:
A) “I need flowers, a handwritten note, and my favorite dinner prepared when I get home.” B) “I need to feel special to you.” Phrase A may offer extreme clarity, but it can also create an atmosphere of control and stifle your partner’s ability to pursue you authentically. Phrase B gives your partner a target they can collaborate with the Holy Spirit to hit. Take time to assess how you need to feel. Respected? Pursued? Validated? The beauty of marriage is that you spend your lives pursuing each other’s hearts, so give your partner the clarity they need without the control.
“How are you experiencing me?”
I will warn you; this question requires openness and maturity. Your spouse has a front-row seat to your life, so they see the good, bad, and the ugly. This question can give you some excellent information. The caveat is that you must decide what you will do with it. So, if I pose this question to my spouse and they share that I seem aloof and distracted by my phone, I have the decision to make. Will I argue and explain how I am using it for work? Or will I humble myself and set boundaries with my device so my spouse feels loved and heard? Please think of the trust you could build with the one you hold most dear by simply soliciting and embracing their feedback.
“What do you need from me?”
There is value in sharing what we need with our spouses, but there is power in asking our spouse what they need. When you ask this question, it translates as, “I care about your needs. They are as precious to me as my own.” When you ask your spouse about their specific needs, you embody your marriage vows. Our needs shift with life’s seasons, so this can be asked repeatedly and will consistently deliver good intel on your spouse’s heart.
“My goal is to be connected to you.”
This is a great way to start conversations and sets the standard for how we conduct ourselves. If I start accusing my spouse or using an angry tone, this does not bring me closer to my goal of connection. Are we pursuing distance or contact with our spouse in our daily interactions? Verbalizing this goal is a powerful way to speak life over your marriage.
These phrases are small tools that help you build the marriage you want. Communication is oxygen to a marriage. It paves the way for intimacy: to know another and to be known. Never stop chasing after it.