Communication and Marriage
We often have married couples talk to us and often ask us lots of questions. After some small talk and we settle in, the subject of communication comes up. Most of the time they will tell us that there is a communication problem and that it has become a major problem in their marriage. The interesting thing is that both spouses agree with each other in regards to having communication problems in their relationship. Well, we have good news; we can help you out some or at least give you something to think about when it comes to communication and marriage.
Communication and Marriage: You Sound like Your Mom/Dad
There are some homes where “we don’t talk about our feelings”, you do not talk back and what is said goes! You learn to stuff your feelings because they do not really matter. There are homes where yelling, screaming and slamming things are the norm. You learn that the loudest wins! There are even homes where families discuss family issues and calmly talk out their disagreements. You learn that everyone needs to be respected and heard.
Some people grow up in homes where we use manipulation and control to get our way, some people grew up in homes where affection was replaced by gifts and rewards when we made our parents/caregiver happy and when we disappointed them, things were withheld or taken away.
*Side note: These examples can take place in a single parent home, a home that has two parents; it can take place growing up with your grandparents, auntie, foster home, etc.
As a married person we find ourselves doing and saying things to our spouse that sound and look very familiar. We find ourselves sounding and acting like our parents/caregivers and many times we fail to recognize it; it just makes sense to you so why not?
Now, put two people together who come from different households and different environments – “well, we talked things out in my home- “we just said what was on our minds and you just have to deal with it!”. I do not have to go on do I, can you see how that is a recipe for conflict! Because we operate from different perspectives (the way that we learned how conflict looks and is dealt with), we will often believe that the other person is wrong. The different perspectives lead us to believe that we just do not communicate with each other.
Communication and Marriage: Communication Breakdown
So, we have learned that conflict and how it is addressed can look extremely different to our spouse depending on the environment in which they grew up in. There are some other factors that contribute to your communication and marriage issues; let me know if you can relate to any of them:
- We make a really big deal out of something that is small, or making something that is a little bad appears to be the biggest sin in the world!
- We think that we know what will happen in the future and just know that it will be very bad!
- We believe that we know what our spouse is thinking, or they are doing something, without having enough or all the information you need to prove it. You just know it!
- We have a negative belief about ourselves and think that it pertains to everything that we do so, we take the stance that it is your entire fault.
- And one of the biggies, if you feel something then it MUST be true!
When you combine the differences between our home environments and some of these thinking errors well, it can look like there is a big problem with your communication and marriage. I will tell you with a straight face that you do not have a communication problem! You are communicating well but the problem is how and what you are communicating to each other.
Communication and Marriage: Finding Common Ground
It is so important that people feel that they are being heard when they are talking to other people, especially when they are attempting to share their concerns, thoughts and feelings. When you are trying to do this and the other person starts to give a response before you are finished talking it is hard to believe that you were heard. When we begin to operate or engage in conversation guided by some of the thinking errors mentioned above; there is very little chance that we are listening.
Make some time to sit down with your spouse and share what conflict looked lie in your home as you grew up. This is not the time to excuse your behavior or to pass judgment on each other; this is actually a good exercise to become closer, to connect with each other in a deeper level.This is a time for change in you as a couple. As you share your experiences, look at ways that you can change and communicate your thoughts and feelings that help your spouse hear what you need and listen to your spouse for feeling words that will allow you to hear their needs as well.
DO NOT use what is shared with each other as ammunition in future conflicts. We as married couples should always place the relationship over the need to be right. There is nothing wrong with agreeing to disagree to maintain the relationship; newsflash- we are NOT right all of the time and if we allow it, time show you how important it is to maintain the relationship over being right. Your goal in marriage should always be to remain connected.