It seems unlikely that anyone could improve his or her marriage in one evening. Well read on! Any positive step in the right direction is an improvement that will continue as long as the efforts continue to be made.
As our recent MarriageAdvice.com poll showed, more than 40% of our 207 respondents identified that the single biggest frustration in their marriage was that their husbands “Didn’t Communicate Enough”.
Below is a 8-step process to insure that both partners are communicating well.
Step #1 – Decide To Communicate
There are really only two options when it comes to communicating…either you do it or your don’t. It’s better to try and communicate and fumble around a bit than ignore the problem until it explodes like a pent up volcano.
The wise spouse will work to resolve and discuss their feelings before the lava of scalding words overflows.
Part of deciding to communicate will include setting aside a time each week to discuss family needs and concerns. This would also be a good time to resolve any minor conflicts that have arisen during the week but weren’t fully taken care of previously.
Step #2 – Choose A Good Time
If a more heated conflict occurs, it’s important to find the right time to discuss the matter. Waiting for your scheduled night for communicating would not be the best idea; however, taking a little time to give both partners time to cool off is important as well.
Working to resolve a big conflict should wait until a time when both parties are not wrung out, angry, tire, or hungry. Your physical state directly impacts your mental state and your ability to work through problems in a rational manner.
Additionally, as we allow ourselves time to calm down, we are better able to carefully think about what is really bothering us besides this specific event. In many cases, the topic of the current disagreement may not be the real problem.
As we take time to ponder and look for the root of the problem, we are better able to expand our vision to the whole picture and not just have tunnel vision of the current problem at hand. Keep in mind, it may just be we’ve had a bad day and this problem was the last straw.
It’s much easier to resolve a problem when we have a better perspective of what is really going on inside of our head and heart.
Step #3 – Neutralize Defenses
Before you have a deep discussion on something that is bothering you, consider two things. First, your spouse will be more receptive to the discussion if you reinforce your love, and express appreciation and confidence in their many attributes.
Second, you choose if you will be irritated or angry, so you need to express yourself in a away that acknowledges your responsibility for your feelings. “You make me so mad!” Really is a false statement because you have allowed yourself to become mad.
However,if you said, “When you make fun of me in front of our friends, it embarrasses me and I feel angry and frustrated,” you would be giving a very accurate statement about what has happened to you. Invite your spouse to help you solve this problem you are having, then they become part of the solution, not the problem.
Step #4 – Use Humor
Like they say, “laughter is the best medicine”. It’s true, physiologically, it relieves stress, and mentally it gives you a time out to relax. You will find that the longer you have been married, the more you have to laugh about.
Many things that were painful or frustrating at the time can be viewed with great humor years later.
Creating code words from some of these humorous events will help relieve tensions when a similar event threatens to evolve.
When either my husband or I say something that is insensitive to the work effort done by the other, all we have to say is “I hate kidney beans”, and the other one immediately realizes their actions are bordering on being insensitive.
It’s an easy way to control tense situations, prevent them from escalating and elicit a sincere, “I’m Sorry.”
A word of caution, be sensitive to the situation. There are times when humor is neither appropriate or too late in coming and will be viewed as sarcasm. Sarcasm has no place in true efforts to communicate.
Step #5 – Be Fair
Be careful when discussing sensitive issues and don’t fall into touchy subjects that you know will enflame the argument.
Looking for fair solutions may require compromising or acquiescing. Remember, you both need to give, sometimes a little, sometimes a lot, to resolve conflicts.
Step #6 – Finding a Peaceful Stalemate
There are times when you need to just agree to disagree. You don’t always have to agree 100% with your spouse, so there are occasions when a peaceful stalemate would be appropriate. It is only a legitimate solution as long as it isn’t just putting off the blow up for another time.
A peaceful stalemate results in open discussion about your differences, why neither of you feel you can change at this time, and acceptance of each others differences.
Step #7 – Willingness to Change
When we truly feel loved, it gives us the freedom to risk changing and growing into a new and improved version of our old self.
As we nurture our marriage relationship, the love and acceptance we feel will be liberating as we make minor and sometimes major changes in whom we are.
Marriage is a wonderful opportunity to practice charity towards our spouse and provide a safe relationship where growth can occur.
Step #8 – Bolster Each Other
No matter what solution you have arrived at, it’s important to always express love and confidence in each other after a disagreement. As we show this love in days to come, it will be clear that no one is harboring ill feelings about the disagreement and that it was truly resolved.
When both partners feel loved and supported in their relationship after a disagreement, it’s easier to resolve future problems with love and respect.
By applying these communication steps, you have now discovered how you can change your marriage in one evening. It will take practice, but with time, you will discover that your marriage has improved more than ten-fold.
Beth Young is the Senior Editor of the leading marriage advise web site,
MarriageAdvise.com. To download your free ebook titled, “101 Marriage Secrets”