Good communication in marriage is an issue we often take for granted.
It can be easy to assume will just naturally occur.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t. There are actions that we can too easily take that that quickly destroy it.
To communicate clearly in marriage (or anywhere) we must fight against these destroyers of meaningful communication.
Here are 12 hindrances (the dirty dozen) to communication in marriage.
1. Using social media as the primary way of communication.
Emails, posts, and tweets do not give the opportunity for deep communication that is needed in a relationship.
Much (perhaps even most) of communication is non-verbal, so much of what is actually being said is missed with digital communication.
Face-to-face communication at the right time and the right place is best for developing and keeping happy and healthy marriages.
2. Not really listening when your spouse is talking.
Reading the paper, watching TV, thinking of what you want to say, etc. are all communication killers.
I have a friend who stops what he is doing and focuses his eyes on his wife when she is talking. His action gives these messages to his wife, “I am interested in what you are saying,” “I want to understand your position,” “There is nothing else in my life more important than you.”
They have been married for over 40 years, so this small action means a lot to their relationship.
In addition, paraphrasing what your spouse said is a way to make sure you “get” what is meant by what is said.
3. Not being honest or clear in what you say but expecting your spouse to “mind-read” what you meant.
A “You ought to know what I meant” attitude is an assumption which leads to frustration and more divisive behaviors (arguments.)
Avoid this by clearly stating what you mean and by giving your spouse an opportunity to restate it. If it is not clearly understood, say it again in different words (but not in a raised voice.)
The purpose is so that clear understanding is achieved.
4. Unwillingness to compromise.
An all-or-nothing mentality may leave you with nothing but a lot of space between you and your spouse. Flexibility (a lot of give and take) is essential for a growing marriage.
5. Majoring on minors.
Some small things are not worth sacrificing the marriage for.
Having socks left on the floor is a nuisance, but in the whole scheme of things, how big of an issue it becomes depends on how big of an issue you make it.
Old habits are difficult to break and socks on the floor is not as important to some as others.
There are alternative ways to deal with minor issues that do not put the marriage on the brink of disaster.
6. Being tired, hungry, or distracted.
It is better to plan a time when both of you are rested, well fed, and can focus on your discussion without distraction.
The phone, TV, or kids keep you from focusing. Meaningful communication takes place best when you can “lock-in” on what your spouse is saying.
7. Dwelling on the past (especially when it has already been dealt with).
When an old issue is resolved, keep it in the past. Deal with current issues only.
“Digging up the bones” of past issues stirs up a lot of “heat” in the present, and “heat” prevents productive communication.
Having a “my way or the highway” attitude often means that eventually, you will be on the highway alone.
An attitude that says, “I want you in my life as long as you make me happy” will eventually leave both of you unhappy.
Marriage is about “we” not just “me.”
9. Uncontrolled temper (anger issues.)
Positive communication exits when anger enters.
Take the time to cool down before continuing. Nothing productive is accomplished in a heated argument, but a lot of damage can be done because of harsh words, ultimatums, or threats.
10. Uncontrolled tongue.
Saying hurtful things to your spouse (because it makes you feel better in the short term) harms the relationship (short term and long term.)
Keep your tongue in check.
Sarcasm, criticism, and put-downs do great harm to the trust and unity that is necessary in a healthy relationship. Speak gentle and kind words.
You can be honest and truthful without being harsh and mean-spirited, but it is a conscious decision you must make.
11. Switch-tracking or jumping from one subject to another without coming to some resolution on any.
Too many issues muddy the waters, and little is ever resolved.
Deal with one issue at a time. Schedule another time to discuss a different issue.
12. Wrong assumptions.
If you wrongly interpret what your spouse means by what is said or done, the real issue never gets addressed.
Do not jump to a conclusion what you think your spouse meant (mind-reading); instead, ask for clarification and listen intently.
Many times, wrong interpretations of what is said do more harm to the relationship than what is actually said. Sometimes what I mean to say does not come out the way I intended.
This probably happens to you and your spouse, too. Give the benefit of the doubt.
Which of the dirty dozen do you seen in your communication in your marriage?
Work on changing that.
It will take work, but it’s worth it.
Now to you: What other tips do you have for communicating better in marriage?