One of the most integral parts of any great marriage is a couple’s ability to communicate effectively with each other and respect each others (often different) opinions. Many newlyweds struggle to find the balance of listening and being heard in the first years of marriage. After all, living with someone and being united with them requires new levels of patience, understanding, and self-control. When a co-worker upsets you, the disagreement is generally superficial, the boss will step in, or you can simply leave to take a breather and have an escape at home. The same is true when arguments arise with friends or extended family members. But, when you argue with your spouse, the rules change, so here are a few things to keep in mind:
Look for Visual Cues – Did you know that more than ninety percent of what you say does not come from your mouth? It has been found that it is the non-verbal actions of a person that provide most of the story. If you are failing to look at your partner when he or she is speaking, then chances are good that you are missing much of what has been said. It is also much easier to misinterpret something that is said if you do not see the non-verbal communications associated with the words.
Actively Listen – In addition to looking at him or her during the conversation, it is very essential to demonstrate that you were, in fact, listening and hearing everything that was said. Common phrases — such as ‘do you know what I mean?’, ‘what do you think?’, ‘am I crazy for feeling that way?’ – should not be ignored. Rather than just nodding your approval of what your partner has said, or starting on a tirade regarding everything you disagree with, be careful to respond meaningfully to those questions. These can be instant diffusers if handled correctly in a heated situation.
Know When to Temporarily End the Conversation – While the old saying ‘never go to bed angry’ still applies, it is unrealistic to believe that every argument throughout the life of your relationship will come to an immediate conclusion. Communication is essential, but sometimes it is just as important to know when to walk away. When tempers are flared to a level that distracts from hearing and understanding what is being said, then it is a good idea to take a moment to breathe. Don’t leave and stay away, but rather, take a moment apart to gather your thoughts, calm your nerves, and begin to think rationally again. At that point, return to your spouse and try to speak at a reasonable volume about what is bothering you.
The communication foundations you lay today will affect your relationship for a lifetime, so take the time to figure out the best ways to discuss highly charged topics and deal with confronting each other in a loving way. It will pay off, I promise! Just reading this blog post is a great step towards continuing your newlywed bliss. What discoveries have you made about communication as a newlywed?