Good communication is immensely rewarding in marriage. You feel connected. Valued. Cherished. Loved. When communication turns south, it’s the exact opposite. No matter what you say, it feels like your spouse is not truly hearing you or seeing your perspective. When communication breaks down, it can leave both spouses feeling disconnected and unloved. While there is no simple fix to communication problems, there are several marriage counseling tips that can help get you back on track toward healthy communication.
Tip #1: Look Beyond Communication Techniques
Communication techniques can be immensely helpful during tense conversations: Speak respectfully. Don’t shift blame. Listen empathetically. While these are excellent communication techniques to employ, there is one glaring problem. Our messages are often communicated more intensely through emotional states than through words. This is why even the best communication techniques cannot mask misguided goals or hostile intentions. Instead of focusing on the techniques themselves, consider what nonverbal messages you are sending to your spouse.
Tip #2: Recognize the Impact of Nonverbal Communication
Nonverbal communication can speak volumes about your goals. While you may say your goal is to feel connected with your spouse, your tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language may be communicating something entirely different. Is your nonverbal communication really telling your spouse that you want them to do something more or stop doing something that you find annoying? If so, your spouse will be able to decipher the message you are truly conveying based on your tone and other nonverbal cues. However, with the proper goal and attitude in place before you begin a conversation with your spouse, your nonverbal communication will be sure to follow.
Tip #3: Adopt the Correct Attitude
The only way to effectively communicate and convey your message – without your body language giving away ulterior motives – is to actually have the correct attitude toward your spouse. This, of course, is easier said than done. Building true connection requires work on your part in order to adopt an attitude that shows you will choose to love and value your partner regardless of whether you agree or not. Before starting a conversation, consider the following:
- Do you truly care to understand your spouse’s perspective or is your goal to be understood?
- Do you want to feel emotionally connected or do you want to win the argument?
- Do you care how your spouse feels or are your own feelings clouding your judgement?
If, after answering these questions, you realize you are not in the right mindset to foster a true connection with your spouse, perhaps you are not ready to have a conversation just yet. Instead, reflect on times when you did feel connected with your spouse. Think about what you love and value about your spouse. If you’re not ready to engage in healthy communication, adopting the correct attitude is the best next step.
Putting Marriage Counseling Tips into Practice
These marriage counseling tips may be a step in the right direction, but nothing compares to putting in the time and effort that it takes to develop healthy communication habits. At LifeStance Health, we understand that there are times in life when healthy communication feels impossible. Our therapists offer goal-directed couples and marriage counseling, helping you and your spouse set goals and experience measurable progress. If you are ready to take the next steps toward healthy communication, get in touch with us today!