Good communication is as important to a marriage as nutritious food is to healthy living. If you eat a steady diet of junk food long enough, your body will eventually break down. And if you fail to properly communicate with your spouse, your marriage will do the same.
In our own marriage, there are some things we’ve learned that work when it comes to communication, and there are some things we’ve learned that doesn’t work. Here are 3 communication practices that don’t work, but that many couples regularly engage in.
1. Assuming your spouse knows what you’re thinking
Sometimes spouses get the mistaken idea that because they love each other, their husband or wife should just simply “get them” by knowing what they want, and how they want it. This would definitely make marriage a whole lot easier if it were the case that spouses had mind-reading capabilities. (My wife and I have tried, and found out that we are both terrible mind-readers.) But this can definitely make marriage a whole lot harder when either spouse has this expressed or implied expectation of the other. This could apply to how things should be done around the house, the way a spouse speaks the other’s love language, or even expectations in the bedroom. Over time, this mindset of “Well, they should just know me” will lead to frustration and problems due to unmet expectations.
Continual and honest communication is the key to better understanding of your spouse. The solution: Share your heart openly and honestly. Marriage does not automatically ensure that your spouse will ever know what you are thinking. The best and only way to make sure of that is to clearly tell them. Make your desires and expectations known about your preferences, your love language, and your needs. And then do it again as necessary. Continual and honest communication is the key to better understanding of your spouse.
2. Assuming your spouse’s negative intentions
The one person in all of life that you should be able to trust more than anyone else is your spouse. They love you and have your best interest in mind. Yet, how often do spouses find themselves questioning the other in their mind, and thinking the worst, rather than the best of each other? When a spouse begins assuming that the other is mad at them, or assumes reasons for why they are acting a certain way, they are walking on thin ice, because they start responding to their spouse based upon their own negatively assumed thoughts. And before you know it, a lot of unhealthy non-verbal communication is taking place. We have personally found in our marriage that assumptions fuel arguments rather than help us avoid them.
The solution: Give each other the benefit of the doubt. Trust one another. Or if the trust has been broken, work towards rebuilding it. And instead of assuming anything negative, if you don’t know, simply ask.
3. Communicating only out of necessity
Married life can get busy, and even more so when you add kids into the mix. And before you know it, if you’re not careful, you and your spouse will be doing a whole lot of communicating, but only out of necessity to keep the home-ship afloat. Soon you begin to feel more like referees in a never-ending game that you created. Marriage begins to feel more like a partnership than a pleasure. And you begin to treat each other more like good business partners than lovers. And any form of good, healthy, and loving communication between the two of you seems foreign.
The solution: Intentionally over-communicate about things that really matter. Schedule times to talk life and love to each other (and don’t be afraid to laugh and have fun), whether that’s first thing in the morning, at the end of the day, or during a coffee break in-between. Work hard to make these times more than just predictable, but enjoyable.
Communication will either make or break your marriage, and it takes lots of work. But the work pays for itself in the long run.
Sound off: Are any of these kinds of dangerous communication a part of your marriage?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Can you share with me one way that I can do better at communicating with you?”