Written by Tycie Monson
Something my husband and I had to learn early on in our marriage was how to talk to each other about hard things. When we got married, we thought we knew how to talk to one another. But we quickly learned that we still had a lot to learn! We found it difficult to be completely open with each other about things that bothered us, mistakes we made, things we needed, etc.
In this post about marriage, I wrote that it's important for married couples to keep talking to each other- about everything! It can get easy to keep things to ourselves- from something our spouse did that annoys us to a mistake we made that our spouse should know about. When you're tempted to keep things from your companion, remember this: Secrecy destroys intimacy.
Based on what my husband and I have learned in our few years of marriage, I’ve come up with a few tips to help couples communicate with each other effectively. (Actually, these tips can be applied to dating and engaged couples as well!)
5. Tips for Communicating With Your Spouse
1. Find a setting that works for you both and set safe boundaries.
Sometimes it's appropriate to bring things up right away, and other times it's better to wait until later. For example, it probably isn't appropriate to bring up to your spouse something about your sexual relationship when you're at the store together.... However, it would be totally appropriate to tell your spouse while you're at the store together, that you have something on your mind that you want to talk about later at home. Find a place that works for you both, a place that makes you both feel safe and calm. It can be harmful if spouses bring up sensitive or difficult topics around other people, including their children. (Although, I do believe that it's healthy for kids to occasionally witness their parents disagreeing (or even arguing) if the parents show that they try to solve the disagreement/problem together, and always show respect toward each other.) For instance, if you chew your spouse out while at dinner with your parents, your spouse will probably feel embarrassed! Talk to each other about what settings you prefer for discussing relationship things. The bottom line: Be sensitive to your spouse's feelings and be aware of who's watching when you're talking about difficult things.
READ: WHY YOU AND YOUR SPOUSE NEED A TALK RITUAL
2. Don't be threatening.
Your spouse is most likely to listen to you and less likely to get defensive if you approach them in a kind, calm way. Obviously, sometimes topics need to be brought up immediately when you may not have time or opportunity to compose yourself just right, but it is important that you try to make your partner feel safe - not attacked.
3. Show that you're a safe confidant.
The way you react to the things your spouse tells you will set a precedent; the way you react will ultimately encourage or discourage your spouse. Of course, it's okay to let your spouse know when they have hurt you, but there is a difference between making your feelings known and freaking out. Even though it can be really hard to do, it is very important that you try to show your spouse that you are someone they can come to for ANYTHING. If they can't come to you, then who else? Each couple is different, so I won't say that there's a specific way you should react in order to keep your marital trust in tact. But, here's a simple tip: Think about how you would want your spouse to react to you if the roles were reversed.
4. Have realistic expectations.
I'm not a believer of no expectations (some believe that expectations are a no-no because they will ultimately not be met and therefore cause disappointment and resentment). I've adopted the philosophy that people are entitled to expect certain behaviors from their companions in life (such as respect, kindness, and support), but that these expectations should be realistic. If it is extremely important to you that you work outside of the home after having kids, then make sure your spouse understands this need of yours and make it known that you expect support in this decision. (Hopefully spouses have already talked about these kinds of things before the wedding day.) Don’t be afraid to make your needs and desires known; but remember that you are in a partnership with your spouse, so you need to also be respectful of and willing to understand their realistic expectations and needs.
READ: 15 TRICKS TO HELP YOU LEARN TO TALK TO YOUR SPOUSE AGAIN
5. Remember that your spouse CANNOT read your mind.
Do NOT assume that your spouse will just magically know what you need! This is not a realistic expectation. Even though your spouse knows you better than anyone else, you do not share a brain and therefore you need to be open with your spouse about what you’re thinking, feeling, and doing.
Sometimes spouses have to talk about not-so-fun things. And that’s okay. That’s part of marriage, and part of life! Don’t be afraid to feel vulnerable with each other! Vulnerability can bring you closer and it also encourages intimacy. Remember, you chose each other - so rely on each other as you navigate the journey of life together.
Photo Credit: Crooze Photography
"What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility."
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