Communication in marriage can be pretty tricky. Our instincts lead us astray from the path of harmony. Here’s how to find your way back to happiness and connectedness.
Humans are funny beings. We are extremely well equipped to tell instantly when something doesn’t feel right. We know immediately when we don’t like something. And we are experts at understanding what we need to stop when something bothers us so we can feel better.
Instinctual Communication in Marriage: Focusing On Wrongs
We use these skills almost automatically, especially when we are in a relationship. We are the first ones to tell our partner, the one person we love the most, exactly what we don’t like about what they do or didn’t do.
It’s just the way humans are built. Not many of us take the time to understand what we don’t like, think about what we want, and then ask for it in a kind, loving way. That would be a lot of work. It’s just plain easier to tell the person, our most important person in the world to; “Just stop it!” It’s quicker.
How Focusing on Wrongs Weakens Relationships
Unfortunately these reactions, that all of us have, hurt relationships. Imagine your partner was the touchy one and everything you did made them upset or disappointed or angry at you. You might begin to feel unloved or at the very least unwanted and unnecessary.
When we bug someone we feel we are in their way. This leads to feeling cut off from a connection with them and we might even feel alone in the relationship. You see there are consequences to telling them what you don’t like about them or what they are doing. It leads to feelings of not being liked at all.
As a couple counselor I help couples understand what their partner feels. If you are the one who doesn’t like things, I would work at helping you understand how your partner feels to receive your disappointment. You might begin to understand how burdensome it becomes to be with a person, who is always unhappy, especially if you love them. You may start to feel there is nothing you can do to make your beloved happy.
Better Communication in Marriage by Focusing on Requests
And then you start to feel down. You can see how this way of communicating has disadvantages. So what if you were to flip how you talked about the things you didn’t like or the things that made you feel uncomfortable? What if you instead of talking about what you don’t like, you made it a habit of only talking about what you want or what you do like?
Because this is not a natural way of communicating for most of us, learning to understand what we do want is a muscle that you have to build. But as you well know, any habit can be broken or added by just staying focused. All of us have built habits for our lives as adults. Here is just one more skill to add to your toolbox.
Start by catching yourself before you utter the words, “I don’t like….” Recognize that you have a discomfort. That’s all it is. Figure out what is making you uncomfortable and then think about what would be helpful to alleviate the discomfort. What can you imagine that would make your feel better? When you discover what is that would make you feel better then you might begin to do the bravest thing of all. You ask your mate, the one who loves you if they will do it for you. And when the request comes from the heart, where all good requests should come from, the answer, from your one and only, can only be YES!
Improve Your Communication in Marriage
Read a Book About Communication in Relationships
Can’t make it on Monday? Read all about how to communicate in relationships in Linda’s book, Safe. Happy. Loved. Simple Skills for Your Relationship. It provides tips on softer communication that just might help you and your loved ones meet each other’s needs in more positive, less confrontational way. Give it a read.
Get Couples Counseling
Come in for couples counseling. Couples counseling can help you see things more clearly, mend your relationship, enhance your relationship, or even understand whether and when to move on.