In the era of email, text messaging, and instant messaging, intent and context often gets miscommunicated. The simplest way to avoid miscommunication is to go into a conversation with open ears and an open mind.
Here are our three tips for better communicating with your spouse or significant other:
Listen without actively contributing – Instinctively, when someone we care about is stressed or frustrated, we want to find a way for them to solve their problem. But, the frustrated party rarely wants a solution; they often just want to voice their issues and have them be heard.
When your spouse is expressing their frustration, don’t be so quick to provide an answer. Ask yourself, “Do they want me to fix the problem? Or do they just want someone to lend an ear?”
Avoid having expectation from communicating – If you go into a conversation with a preconceived idea of how the conversation should end, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Instead, approach the conversation as a necessary first-step to voice your feelings. This first-step will open the door to resolving the issues at-hand.
Having an expectation will cause resentment, building up more anger, should your spouse not respond the way you envisioned.
Don’t try to argue with feelings – If your spouse starts a conversation with “I feel…,” that statement is a fact. E.g. “I feel like I’m putting more into this relationship than you are.” Whether or not they are putting in more is not what’s being communicated. Instead of scoffing at their feelings, try to discuss what, specifically, is making them feel the way they do.
Do they do more around the house? Are they lacking intimacy from you? Once you figure out the specifics, you can work together to provide your spouse with counterbalance.