Self-help experts say you need good communication in marriage.
Yes, that is a given. It’s also a very general statement that needs expansion.
There are many levels of communication: body language, tone of voice, rate of speech, speech pattern changes, eye movement and yes the words you use.
Let’s break down what effective communication is like a little more.
There are 3 basic levels of communication that can be addressed. I call these levels, three different modes of communication in marriage. Usually a couple finds one of these modes most problematic for the marriage.
One mode addresses the level of acceptance (which generates warmth) in a marriage.
Effective communication in marriage here is evident when:
You self disclose what you think, what you feel what you experience at that moment. Your spouse accepts what you disclosed about yourself. Your spouse discloses what s/he thinks, feels or experiences related to yourself disclosure. You accept and value what your spouse disclosed. The warmth and intimacy loop is closed.
The second mode relates to how you agree to meet each other’s needs.
You state your personal need. You describe specifically what your spouse can do to meet that need. Your spouse agrees to meet your personal need in the way that you described. (Or, provides a workable alternative.) Likewise your spouse declares his/her personal need and what you can do to meet it. You agree. You feel safe and experience your marriage as stable and predictable.
The third mode deals with problem solving, brainstorming or managing the things of life you hold together. You state the problem. The two of you explore possible solutions for improving the marriage. The two of you decide on who will enact the solution. You enact the solution. You come together at a later date to evaluate the effectiveness of the solution and may perhaps, again initiate the problem solving process. This third mode ensures a smoothly functioning marriage and/or family life.
Which mode is your strongest mode? With which mode do you most struggle? (Hint: Emotional distance is the result of a broken #1 mode, Frustration with mode #2 and conflict with mode #3.)
Let’s become more specific.
Here’s a list of 10 Positive characteristics of effective communication in marriage:
- I tell my spouse the truth, even about the little details.
- I have addressed everything that matters to me; I feel current with my spouse up to this minute.
- It is easy and comfortable to talk with my spouse; we check in with each other often.
- I feel our initiative is balanced; we make decisions easily.
- I feel heard and respected by my spouse, even if we disagree.
- I take responsibility to communicate what I want and need; I don’t make my spouse guess.
- I am aware how the attitude I choose affects the quality of our communication in marriage.
- I listen to my spouse fully; I don’t interrupt or contradict my spouse when s/he is speaking.
- I respond to my spouse in a way which honors his/her best self; I do not react impulsively.
- I don’t complain about or to my spouse; I make requests.
Now, here’s what I want you to do.
Copy this list. Print it out and take it with you. Spend two days reading it periodically. Paste it on your fridge. Make it desktop on your computer. Tape it to your mirror. Keep it in front of you, just for two days. Think about the list. Reflect on the list. Allow the list to sink deeply in to you.
Then, put it aside for a week.
Come back to the list a week later and see what sifts have taken place in your mind or in your relationship. Describe how the list has impacted you and your marriage. What did you do differently? What new attitudes do you now possess? What mental breakthroughs did you make, if any?
If you are separated, divorced and/or single, feel free to use this exercise targeting any relationship of significant emotional investment.
Blog Topic: Communication in Marriage