5 Ways You're Communicating Wrong and How to Do It Right Proper communication in a marriage doesn’t have to be painful. Use these five simple tips to help make verbal connections incredibly easy. BY RABBI SHLOMO SLATKIN, MS, LCPC
There are very simple tips that can make communication a breeze.
“ Criticism is a nasty habit that can belittle a spouse and break trust in a relationship. Focus more on the positive.”
Communication problems are one of the biggest challenges couples face in a marriage, yet with the right tools they are some of the easiest to fix. Use these five tips to help bridge the gap between you and your spouse and make disagreements on many simple issues a thing of the past.
1. Mindreading: Don’t try to read your spouse’s mind or expect him to read yours. Ask your spouse what he is thinking or tell him directly what you need. You don't get bonus points for guessing right, so don't make things more difficult than they need to be.
2. Dumping: If you have something important to say, especially if it is a complaint or emotional upset with your spouse, don't dump without consideration of the other. When you catch your spouse off guard, her primary response will be survival. Instead of dumping, ask your spouse, "Is now a good time?" If not, try to schedule a time within the next 24 hours to have that important conversation. You can even let them know what the topic of conversation so they don't unnecessarily worry.
3. Interrupting: While you may feel like you have something valuable to share, or you disagree, or feel hurt with what is being said; when you are listening it is not the time to respond. Try remaining silent until your spouse is finished talking. When he is done, ask if there is more he wants to share. Only when he expresses that he has finished should you communicate your feelings. It's a courtesy that will then be shared, leading to a two-sided conversation where both sides are heard.
4. Unsolicited advice: True listening means focusing on the one sharing. Don’t offer your advice unless you are asked. Instead, validate your spouse by not responding or offering validating phrases such as, "What you're saying makes sense;" "Your feelings are important to me;" and "What you're saying is valid."
5. Criticizing: Criticism is a nasty habit that can belittle a spouse and break trust in a marriage. Focus more on the positive. When something does bother you ask for your needs by using "I" statements instead of "you" statements, which are more shame and blame. For example, "I worry about our finances because I don't know if our budget is realistic." Compared to, "You're spending too much money." The second statement immediately puts your spouse on the defense.
Healthy communication creates a structure of safety in marriage which allows for love and connection to thrive.
Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, Certified Imago Relationship Therapist (Advanced Clinician), and an ordained Rabbi. He works with couples to empower them to develop a conscious and connected relationship through learning communication skills and rediscovering love. For more information visit his website www.themarriagerestorationproject.com and download your free sample chapters of Rabbi Slatkin’s new book, "The 5 Step Action Plan to a Happy & Healthy Marriage."