Common Mistakes In Couples’s Communication
In our work with coaching couples and leading the Love Recon couple’s seminars, communication is the number one area in which couples say they need the most help. If couples can communicate well, they can avoid problems and grow closer together rather than further apart.
“As your communication goes, so goes your marriage.”
Here are some of the common mistakes that couples make that sabotage their communication and, thus, their relationship:
Failing to listen.
This seems evident, and yet it is the biggest problem in communication. Learning to listen is the first step in effective couple communication.
- Put your phone down and make eye contact.
- Take turns and listen to learn your partner’s thoughts, perceptions, and ideas.
- Pay attention to the feeling words like swamped, loved, frustrated, proud, etc.
- Ask clarifying questions if you don’t understand, and listen carefully to your partner’s response.
- Repeat what you heard them say without interjecting your thoughts until it is your turn to share them.
- Respond with something validating like, “I never thought of it that way before,” or “That sounds really tough, “etc.
Not thinking before speaking.
Too often, we react to what our mate has said and don’t consider our words before they leave our lips. This can escalate into a full-on argument and hurt feelings when the whole thing might have been avoided if we had just thought about what we would say before we said it. Use these evaluators in considering how to respond to your spouse. Make sure the answer is “yes” to all three.
- Is it true?
- Is it kind?
- Will it draw us closer together?
Just talking about yourself.
Do you emotionally vomit on your spouse? Sometimes we need to vent to our spouse about work, the kids, and other areas of our life in which we feel frustrated. That’s okay, but be sure that you listen to what your spouse is dealing with and empathize with them as well. It’s not all about you!
Not watching your tone.
Tone is everything in communication. It can change the entire meaning of your communication, so keep it gentle. Yelling or speaking in an angry tone will shut cause your spouse to become defensive or shut down. Raising your voice doesn’t serve you or your spouse well.
Using negative non-verbals.
Non-verbal communication is as important as tone when communicating. Your facial expression, hand gestures, body position, etc., will speak more than your words. Make eye contact. Remain in open body positions – no crossed arms and stiff posture- and be as relaxed as possible.
Superlatives are statements like “you always” or “you never .”First of all, this is not true. There are very few things, if any, that your spouse always does, never does, or does every single time. Using superlatives can shut down communication and be harmful to your relationship.
Degrading or verbally attacking your spouse.
Never degrade your spouse or issue verbal put-downs of them. This is verbal abuse. Your goal should be building each other up, encouraging each other, and loving your spouse as you love yourself. It takes at least five positive affirmations to counteract one harmful degradation, but the memory remains for a long time.
Playing the blame game.
Even if your spouse makes a mistake or miscommunicates, don’t automatically blame them, even if it is their failure. Pointing fingers never helps the situation, and there will be plenty of times in the future when you slip up. Whatever or whoever the cause of the issue is, as a couple, you have joint responsibility in repairing or resolving it. Communicate clearly and make it a learning opportunity for you both.
Wanting first to be understood.
It is vital that you put your feelings aside and first seek to understand your spouse’s thoughts and feelings before you seek to make yours known. Use the guidelines about listening in #1 above. Let the one with the strongest feelings about the topic go first so that they can be validated and thus be able to listen better when it is the other’s turn to speak. Listening to your spouse first may change your feelings or point of view before you even have the time to share it.
Referring to the past.
It is counterproductive to remind your spouse of their past mistakes or your past shining moments. Instead, be a good forgiver when your spouse disappoints or fails, and be quick to ask forgiveness when you mess up.
Don’t be discouraged if you fall back into old patterns of communication. It takes practice, and no one does it perfectly, but you can get better and better at it. And if you both are improving, your marriage will also be improving!
If you want to discuss how we can help you and your relationship, please get in touch with me at [email protected] or call 866-218-1716. You may also visit our website, www.LoveRecon.org, for testimonials and information.