Communication is a frequently discussed topic, and it's something most couples struggle with for a variety of reasons. When people mention "communication," it's a broad term encompassing various aspects of a relationship. In this article, I will address some crucial facets of communication in marriage that you and your partner should work on.
What is communication in marriage?
Communication in marriage involves open and respectful dialogue between both partner's on their inner feelings, needs, and frustrations in order to develop a close and fruitful relationship.
4 Steps To Better Communication In Marriage
1-Communicate About Your Inner Worlds
Firstly, consider how effectively you and your partner communicate about your inner worlds, which comprise your daily thoughts and feelings. These thoughts can encompass various aspects of your life, such as your children, finances, work, and friends. Often, many thoughts remain unshared with our partner, leading to feelings of disconnection and distance. To address this issue, I developed the "Head Heart Check" tool as a simple way for couples to connect and share their evolving inner worlds. As time passes, your highs and lows change, as do those of your partner. Hence, it's essential to stay updated on each other's inner worlds to enhance communication. Sharing your inner worlds regularly is key to nurturing deep friendship, closeness, and a soulful connection.
2-Communicate About Your Conflicts
Secondly, it's crucial to improve communication around conflicts. Conflicts are inevitable in any relationship, as imperfections are part of our human nature. When our imperfections collide with our partner's, conflicts arise due to unmet needs and hurt feelings. Effectively communicating through these conflicts is vital for a healthy relationship. I created the Reunite Tool for conflict resolution to help couples sift through conflicts in an emotionally safe manner. Often, unresolved conflicts and lingering resentments remain unaddressed, further dividing partners. Unresolved conflicts act as barriers, eroding physical and emotional intimacy. Therefore, it is essential to learn how to communicate more efficiently during conflicts to build a stronger, healthier relationship. If you need help using the Reunite Tool, start working with one of my relationship coaches who are trained experts in it.
3-Communicate About Your Needs
The third area where improved communication is essential is regarding your needs within your marriage. What are your specific needs within your relationship? These needs could encompass various things, such as quality time, affection, sexual intimacy, words of affirmation, thoughtful gestures, or support for your interests. There are numerous ways to feel loved in a relationship, but there are also things that bother you—actions or behaviors by your partner that elicit negative emotions. How well do you and your partner communicate about these needs and dislikes, desires, and aversions? How frequently do you discuss these matters, and how effectively do you convey your feelings to your partner on these topics?
To address these challenges, I developed the "Love Bucket" tool, which is also my couples app, "Keep the Glow" (KtG). If you aim to enhance communication regarding your primary needs to feel loved and the aspects of your relationship that trouble you, KTG can be a valuable resource. I understand the significance of this need firsthand, as my wife and I faced similar difficulties during tough times in our relationship. At one point, I found myself thinking, "The things I need she's not doing and the things I dislike, she's doing!" The dilemma was how to broach this issue without triggering a fight or defensive responses. Similarly, my wife encountered challenges in addressing her needs with me. I developed KtG to create a safe channel for couples to openly communicate about their needs and dislikes within their relationship.
4-Communicate Through The Bullseye Question
Number four is a simple yet highly effective tool called the "Bullseye Question." You may have heard me discuss the bullseye question before, as it happens to be one of my favorite tools due to its simplicity and profound impact. Here's how the bullseye works: Once a day, you and your partner take turns asking one another "What's one thing I did right today and what's one thing I could have done better?" This straightforward inquiry comes with a ground rule – the only allowed response is "Thank you for the feedback." This ground rule is essential so you don't become defensive, offer justifications, or shift blame onto your partner. Engaging in such defensive behavior will discourage your partner from providing feedback in the future, leading to unaddressed issues accumulating and potentially causing larger conflicts down the line.
The Bullseye Question serves as a daily maintenance tool to enhance communication between you and your partner, ultimately contributing to a happier marriage. The first part of the question, "What's one thing I did right today," benefits both partners. It allows you to reinforce positive behaviors because knowing what you did right encourages you to continue those actions. Simultaneously, it prompts your partner to actively seek out the positive aspects in your actions, promoting a more optimistic perspective. Typically, many of us focus on our partner's shortcomings, but intentionally looking for their positive actions each day trains our brains to recognize and appreciate the bright spots. Also, when discussing what your partner did right, go beyond mere appreciation and delve into what those actions said about their character. For instance, instead of saying, "I appreciated how you unloaded the dishwasher last night," you could say, "I appreciated how you unloaded the dishwasher because it showed your thoughtfulness because you knew I was tired." This shift transforms your appreciation into a compliment, as you're now highlighting your partner's character traits. This deeper level of communication can have a significant impact on your partner's feelings and overall relationship satisfaction.
Now, when you ask "What's one thing I could have done better," remember to put their feedback into one of three buckets. The first bucket is the "fluke bucket," which means the feedback pertains to a specific circumstance that was a one-time occurrence and not reflective of your typical behavior. It's not your fault, and you can let it go because it's a one-off situation. The second bucket is the "all me bucket," which means the feedback points to a significant area of improvement that is entirely your responsibility to work on. Most of the time, however, you will find yourself putting the feedback into a third bucket "partly not me, partly me," which says part of the feedback wasn't your fault but part of it was.
Take some time over the next day or so to reflect on the feedback, searching for the kernel of truth you can improve on. This is leveraging your partner as your biggest asset for personal development. Once you've identified the kernel of truth, take action to address it. This approach empowers you to work on yourself without feeling cornered or defensive. Nobody is demanding that you own everything, and it sidesteps the common pitfalls associated with criticism and defensiveness. Therefore, by practicing this exercise once a day and responding with a simple "Thank you for the feedback," you can genuinely transform your communication. Also, the Bullseye Question is the only time either partner should be expressing complaints in the marriage to avoid blindsides.
In summary, these are the four ways to enhance your communication in marriage.
1. Communicate About Your Inner Worlds
2. Communicate About your Conflicts
3. Communicate About Your Needs
4. Communicate Through The Bullseye Question
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How could these 4 communication in marriage tips improve your relationship?