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February 15, 2017

3 Quick Wins in Marriage Conversation

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A Better Marriage is Within Reach.

3 Quick Wins in Conversations

Any of us who are honest will admit that we’ve been there before: That moment in marriage where you are convinced that this person you’ve decided to spend your life with will never understand you…and probably doesn’t want to.

The experts tell us that communication is everything…that without good communication we can’t have good relationships. But what else can we possible learn about communication that we haven’t already heard and applied?

Like anything else, good communication isn’t about making one decision at one point, but about making a series of decisions over and over again.

Here are some decisions you can make in your conversations with your spouse or significant other that can change communication:

 

1. Remember: They aren’t talking about you. They’re talking about themselves.

Once in a while, my wife will make a comment like, “I feel like you don’t help around the house.” Instantly my defenses go up with thoughts like, “What else do I need to do?” and “Nothing I do is ever good enough.” These thoughts usually spark some sort of reaction…and then overreaction…that comes out of hurt feelings and misunderstandings. It usually takes me a while to see that she isn’t actually saying all that much about me in her statement. That doesn’t mean that I’m not guilty of letting her do much more than her share. But in that statement, she’s talking about herself…how tired she is and how much she needs a break…how she doesn’t feel seen or heard in her life.

If I listen, she eventually tells me how good it feels to be heard. There is usually something for me to take away from her comment and change about myself, but the conversation changes drastically when I let her talk about herself.

While this principle isn’t always true, it often is. Remembering it can save us a lot of undue hardship.

 

2. Spontaneous Surrender

Be willing to acknowledge, as soon as you recognize it, that you are wrong.

My wife is much better at this than I am. I often die on hills. She, however, in the midst of a discussion or argument, will say, “You’re right. I did that. That wasn’t fair.” It immediately deescalates the situation. I am disarmed and the conversation pivots toward resolution.

You aren’t always wrong. Neither is your partner. If you each decide to own your fault as soon as you see it, your conversations (and arguments) can be much more fruitful.

 

3. Touch-Talk

It’s easy to only notice nuisances and busyness. It’s easy to speak only of the urgent and of the mundane: of soccer practice and carpool schedules, dinner plans and parent/teacher conferences.

So try this: Ask your partner about their day while your hand is on their arm. Talk about the insane drivers on the highway or the unrealistic expectations from your boss while you hold their hand.

This isn’t always the right move. Sometimes your partner could see it as overwhelming or needy. Sometimes it’s a distraction from a good conversation. But when the busyness is taking control or when you need to address something a little more sensitive, sometimes “Touch-Talk” can take the conversation to a much better place.


The hardest part of communication is the gap between the message-sender and the message-receiver. Whatever steps we can take to bridge that gap can change everything about our conversations in marriage. So take the steps you need to take, and let today be the beginning of something better.

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