Poor communication consistently ranks as a top problem for couples. This looks different for every marriage. Barriers may include interruptions, lack of emotional and physical safety, avoiding conflict, explosive responses, and more. Whatever the breakdown is in your marriage, the good news is that it can be overcome. Below are 3 skills to Overcome Communication Breakdown with Your Spouse.
3 Skills to Overcome Communication Breakdown With Your Spouse
1. Speak Your Spouse’s Language
Creating a safe space is important for any type of intimate and important conversation to occur with your spouse. Caring and building trust is key here. Both husbands and wives want to know that their spouses care and value them. However, it’s vital to understand that men and women communicate this differently.
Jimmy Evans said, “You should learn how to encrypt your language with your spouse’s needs.” Whether this is a gender or personality barrier, you cannot communicate with your spouse unless they feel valued and safe. So how do you speak your spouse’s language?
Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, in his book Love and Respect, identified that a wife’s driving need is to feel loved and a husband’s driving need is to feel respected. The underlining message that wives want to hear from their husband is, ” I care and my heart is turned toward you.” Likewise, husbands want to hear this from their wives, ” I believe in you, you are a good man, and I respect you.” (Evans)
Keep in mind communicating love and respect also is demonstrated through tone, body language, eye contact, and active listening. Speaking your spouse’s language to communicate that you love them is paramount. Creating this safe atmosphere of trust and partnership is one skill in overcoming communication barriers with your spouse.
2. Speak Appreciation and Praise
Negativity destroys marriages. What words are you sowing into your marriage? Are they words of life or are they words of death? Research shows that the first three minutes of conflict are the most important. How you set the stage will determine how conflict is managed. The key is establishing the right climate from the beginning.
Instead of starting conversations with accusations, negative feelings, or reactive responses, start with appreciation and positivity. I know this may seem difficult if emotions are high. Yet, consider this example.
Two married couples hit a rough patch in their marriage and they find themselves arguing about everything. The first couple says things like this, “This is never going to get better” and “We’ll never make it through this.” They also utilize “you” language with an accusatory tone.
The second couple says things like this, “We are going to fight for this marriage and keep choosing to love each other” and “thank you for being in this with me.” They utilize “I” language with a responsible tone.(Example from Gerald Brooks, Laws of Increase)
The first couple sowed seeds of negative words in their marriage and spoke death. While the second couple spoke life into their marriage and will be renewed by the mercy of God. When praise leaves, criticism comes. Let’s be proactive about entering conversation with the right climate.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.Psalm 100:4 NIV
3. Speak the Truth in Love
The third skill in 3 Skills to Overcome Communication Barriers with Your Spouse is to speak the truth in love. Ephesians 4: 15 says, “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.”
Marriages need both grace and truth. We need both to communicate with one another. Jimmy Evans said it best, “Truth without mercy is mean and mercy without truth is meaningless.” As a couple, be determined to talk about issues in a loving way. Be kind towards one another in creating an atmosphere of truth.
To sum up, overcoming communication barriers can be challenging and takes time. Improving on these three skills will be helpful in strengthening your connection with your spouse.