We hear time and time again that communication is key in a marriage, and that we should talk to our husbands. But simply talking, and communicating effectively are two different things.
One of the biggest complaints I hear from couples is that they just don’t talk to each other anymore, and it honestly makes me so sad. When we start our relationships, we can’t get enough of each other. The excitement when we get a text or a phone call, talking for hours, wanting to know everything there is about each other.
Then, somewhere along the way, those conversations turn into ‘did you get milk on your way home’ or ‘the kids have sport practice this afternoon, don’t forget to drop them off’.
Yes, life happens, but that doesn’t mean we have to stop talking.
If you’re at the point where you don’t know how to start communicating in your marriage again, and you don’t even know how to talk to your husband anymore, it’s okay, you can come back from this! All it takes is a little practice, a little patience, and a little time.
Why Communication Is Important in Marriage
With the average divorce rate in America reaching just shy of 50 percent, it’s easy to see that when it comes to marriage, we’re doing something wrong. Regardless of cause for divorce, almost every problem in every relationship comes down to one thing – unmet expectations.
Think about it, arguments about money, about marital roles, about fidelity – someone had an expectation that wasn’t met. And more often than not, that expectation isn’t actually communicated.
Take this as an example:
Before a couple gets married, both people have full time career jobs and contribute equally to the finances. Perhaps they don’t even combine finances, but rather divide expenses up 50/50 and are responsible for their own money.
After marriage, they decide to start a family, and within a year their beautiful bundle of joy has arrived. One person has to stay home with the baby, and the other gets to continue their career. One person is no longer contributing to the family finances, but how is the money going to be managed? What are the expectations around general spending money? What are the expectations around returning to work and maintaining their career? What are the expectations around the roles around the home.
Each person will have their own expectations based on their own upbringing and beliefs. No one person is right, they are just different. However, without communication and discussing of these expectations, you can see where misalignments can occur and frustrations can form.
This is just one example – we have expectations around everything in our relationships and that is why it is so important to continue to communicate. Our lives are constantly evolving, our relationships are constantly evolving, and keeping lines of communication open is so incredibly important otherwise expectations will start to go unmet.
With all of that in mind, knowing how important it is to keep communicating, here are some things you can do to ensure you get the best response and the best opportunity to talk to each other (talk to… not at each other…)
Choose The Right Time
While it may seem incredibly important to you to discuss the issue you have with your husband right now, launching into a big heart to heart the moment he walks through the door might not be met with the best response. Neither will trying to have a discussion during the football, trust me, I’ve been there.
While your expectation might be that you want to discuss it right now, your husbands expectation might be that he doesn’t want to have a deep discussion at this time – which means someones expectation is going to go unmet.
Rather than end up disappointed and frustrated, make an appointment with each other. Let your husband know you have something you want to discus and ask him when a good time to talk will be. Book it in, and keep your appointment with each other.
Choose The Right Tone
Have you heard that phrase that it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it? Well, this applies to how you communicate in your marriage as well.
If you’re snappy, snarky, and short with your tone, then expect to be met with a snappy, snarky, and short retort.
I get it, frustrations get high, it’s easy to become overwhelmed, and sometimes you wish your husband was more of an ally than just another person you have to look after, but trust me… tone is everything. You attract more bees with honey than you do with vinegar. (Okay, I’ll stop with the analogies now).
The point is, regardless of what’s happening, choose your tone, set the tone, speak in a way that reflects how you wish to be spoken to and go from there.
Listen, Then Respond
Oh my gosh I struggle with this one. I have, all of my life, been the person who interrupts someone mid sentence. I don’t mean it, it’s just that my brain goes a million miles an hour and sometimes the thoughts firing off in my brain meet my mouth before I can slow them down. So this is something I personally have had to really work on. So believe me when I say I understand how difficult this can be. But, it is also so darn important.
At the core of effective communication is effective listening. That is, active listening and making sure you are genuinely paying attention to what each other has to say.
Listen to what each other is saying first, and then respond.
This becomes a lot easier when you eliminate distractions and when you set a time that works for both of you to talk. This helps because you’re both set up to prepare yourself for a conversation, and you’re not trying to talk while trying to do other things at the same time.
Talk About Things That Aren’t Stressful
So far, a lot of what we have discussed has been around the idea of talking about big issues, but the thing is, communication isn’t just about the big things. It’s about the little things each day and turning that communication skill into a habit (see the next point for more on that).
If the only times you set aside to communicate are when things are stressful, or when you need to discuss big issues, then you’re going to make the connection between communicating = stress and you’re going to avoid it, whether it’s subconscious or actively avoiding.
When you discuss things that aren’t stressful, as well as the big issues, then communication just becomes part of what you do. And it is a lot easier to talk about the big things when you’ve already built the effective communication skills with the smaller things.
Make Talking A Habit
You know, some days I just don’t want to talk. I’m tired, I’m overstimulated, I just want to zone out and watch Netflix. But, if we do that for one day, then I know it’s easy to do that the next day, and before we know it, it’s been a week and we’ve barely talked.
Talking to each other needs to be a habit. It needs to be something you do daily. It might feel like effort some days, but it’s the effort you put in that makes it so easy on other days.
We know that in 50% of marriages we are doing something wrong. Half of all marriages are failing and we are missing the fundamentals that help us through this. Communicating with each other is so important. It’s what our relationships started with, it’s how we fell in love, it needs to be the thing that is at the core of our relationship and helps us weather any storm.
Communicating doesn’t have to be a chore, it doesn’t have to be difficult. Remember when you started and it was so much fun? Get back to that! Ask each other silly questions, have fun together! Get to know each other all over again. Make communicating fun, make it a habit, and make it a skill you are so darn good at.