Whether you’re newlyweds or have been married for years, communicating with your partner isn’t always easy. Between disagreements, different points of views, and feeling like you have to constantly nag them to do things, patience can wear thin.
While I wouldn’t call myself an expert by any means, I’ve picked up some wisdom over the years that has made a world of difference in how my husband and I relate to each other. Here is my best advice about how to communicate with your spouse, regardless of the topic.
#1. Get clear on your goal.
When it comes to tricky conversations, it’s important to pause before acting and get clear on what you’re looking for. Are you airing frustrations because you just want to vent? Is there something that’s been bothering you that you want to change? Do you need to share something personal and want them to respond with as little judgment as possible?
Get clear on this so that you can go into the discussion with greater clarity and focus.
#2. Tell them what you need.
This one sounds obvious, but too often it gets missed. Preface the discussion with what you need.
Most men are problem solvers, and will jump into “fix it” mode if you vent about an issue at work. But if all you wanted was to vent, their suggestions may frustrate you. Instead, open the conversation letting them know what you’re looking for. Even a quick “I had a bad day at work – can I just vent a little? I don’t need solutions – I just need to talk it out.” will set things up nicely.
#3. Stick to the issue at hand.
When it comes to tough conversations or things you’re angry about, it can be easy for the discussion to get off track.
It can be so tempting to bring up past arguments, other frustrations, and loosely related concerns. But staying focused on the conversation at hand is so important. That’s because it betters your chance of arriving at a resolution, keeps things focused (more effective!), and also helps your credibility. If every time you bring up a frustration with your spouse, you end up berating them over 10 other unrelated topics, you’ll lose their attention pretty quickly.
Going into the conversation, get clear with yourself on your key issue and what resolution looks like. This will greatly improve your discussion.
#4. Truly reflect on where they’re coming from.
We spend so much time in our own minds, that it’s easy to fall in the trap of thinking our way is the only right way (guilty!)
Instead, give some thought to where your partner is coming from. What’s driving them to believe what they believe? Where are their views stemming from? Can you relate at all to any of their points of view?
Not only will this give you more empathy, but it can help you see commonalities and therefore help brainstorm solutions that will work for both of you. Plus, it just feels better to look at things from both sides!
#5. Keep an open mind.
Similar to being open to where your partner is coming from, keeping an open mind throughout the conversation will do you both a world of good.
A non-traditional solution may be the perfect option. A totally different workaround may be best.
Just because you went into the conversation with your own version of a resolution, doesn’t mean it’s the only one. Stay open to input and ideas, and you may be surprised that one really resonates.
That’s my best advice for how to communicate with your spouse. How do you typically handle tough conversations? Do you have any best practices that I haven’t mentioned above? Leave me a comment and let me know!