James Sexton, the author of If you’re in My Office, It’s Already Too Late: A Divorce Lawyer’s Guide to Staying Together, has overseen more than 1000 divorce cases. In that time, he boils failure in marriage to only one of two things:
“I have learned, over and over, that marriages and other committed relationships fail for two fundamental reasons.
1) You don’t know what you want.
2) You can’t express what you want. End of story.”
Do you know what you want?
Do you know how to communicate that to your spouse?
6 tips for improving communication in your marriage:
- Be intentional about spending time together talking. Put down technology! Remember to talk to each other about little things.
- Use more”I” statements and less “You” statements. For example, “I wish you would…” instead of “You don’t ever”
- Be specific & Avoid mind-reading.
- Express negative feelings constructively. “I am really disappointed that you are working late again tonight,” is very different from, “You clearly do not care one whit about me or the kids. If you did, you would not work late every night.”
- Listen without being defensive. Listening is sometimes the best skill you can gain in order to communicate better. It’s easy to forget to listen.
- Freely express positive feelings. Make sure your compliments exceed your complaints. If your spouse feels validated–your complaints won’t fall on deaf ears.
Tips for Disagreements:
- It’s ok to push the pause button on disagreements. Don’t let a disagreement be more important than the person you love. You’ll figure it out. Simply say “pause” when it is getting heated, and you both agree to come back and “unpause” later.
- “Don’t go to bed angry” is horrible advice; Exhaustion is a mountain you can’t talk through; Sometimes mornings are just a better time to discuss hard topics.
- Writing might be easier/better than talking in some cases; write a note, an email, a text if you can’t clearly communicate what you are feeling and thinking
Today’s Spark: Choose one of the tips listed above to use to improve communication in your marriage. Try it out today!