You’re sick of all the fighting. You try to have serious conversations with your partner, but it always seems to devolve into a nasty argument. It happens over and over, and for what reason?
Your spouse insists that it’s because you don’t listen.
And they’re probably right, at least a little bit. Fostering an environment of effective communication is one of the biggest challenges any couple can face, and nobody is sent into this world fully prepared to have a perfectly harmonious relationship. Here are a few tips to encourage an environment of listening and understanding in your marriage.
Give your partner your full attention by making eye contact and not thinking about what you’re going to say next. Make your intention to approach the conversation with attentiveness, curiosity, and open-heartedness. Silencing your phone and setting it aside face-down will communicate to your partner that you are interested and invested in the conversation. An honest heart-to-heart can only take place if you are committed to mindfully engaging in the present moment.
Don’t take things personally
It is human nature to take things personally, especially during a serious discussion with a partner. We feel attacked and like the things they are saying make us bad or wrong. Remember that your partner is communicating their own personal experience, and it might not have anything to do with you. Expand your perspective and empathize with how the other person might feel rather than letting the assumption that everything is about you make you defensive.
Work towards a goal.
By the very nature of a marriage, your spouse will inevitably inspire major emotions in you. Especially during an argument, it can be easy to let our emotions blind us to the truth of our situation. If you’re approaching your partner because you’d like help with the dishes, having an outburst about how they never take out the trash isn’t going to help you towards your goal of not doing the dishes alone. When you’re approaching a difficult conversation with your partner, keep your goals in mind and make sure that you’re taking steps that walk you towards what you actually want, instead of being at the whims of your emotionality.
Practice active listening.
Active listening is a set of behaviors that keeps you positively involved and engaged with your conversation partner, and it’s especially vital to learn this skill when navigating a marriage. You can start to practice active listening by withholding judgment, and trying to empathize with what your partner is saying before reaching a final conclusion.
Let go of your attachment to your own agenda
When you are attached to a certain outcome, you don’t leave room to adapt to anything new, making compromise impossible. When you are focused on your own agenda, you stop listening to your partner and are instead in a defensive state. Focus on your shared goal, and let go of the outcome. This will help you maintain your connection, even when life changes.
Schedule a session with a couple’s counselor
Couple’s counseling doesn’t have to be a last resort effort. Couple’s counseling can help you learn how to communicate with your partner. It’s also great because you have someone there to check your blind spots and help you see past your own egos.
If you have persistent feelings of jealousy in your relationship, you are not alone. We are all humans with a wide-range of emotion. The thing is, your jealousy can be used as a guide that will lead you to more fulfillment in your life. Take our jealousy mini-course and learn how to cope with the green eyed monster.
Alli Cravener is a social media coordinator and writer who is passionate about connecting people through words. Alli studied English at Arizona State University and has found her niche uniting concept and content in the realm of mental health and the expressive arts. Alli’s interests include painting, history, learning about other people, and wearing the color pink. She likens herself to a “mouse in a palm tree”, and she loves it that way.