It has been said that the top skill couples need to develop to nurture their relationships is communication. Communication sounds like an easy skill to learn: all you have to do is talk, right? That is not all there is to communication. In fact, listening is even more important.
Why do people fail to communicate effectively with one another most of the time? Modern society struggles with face-to-face conversation and people prefer to use text or email, so they lack practice with developing sensitive body language and expression. They are not in tune with the subtleties of unspoken communication. Even in a marital relationship, this can be tricky if two people are at work all the time and only cross paths at supper time.
They forget to meet each other’s eyes when speaking. One spouse will multi-task, supposedly listening and typing on the computer or answering text messages simultaneously. Time isn’t set aside for long meaningful talks; talks are fit in around other things. When one speaks, the other is already preparing what he or she wants to say, not trying to process the message. Most of what comes across is criticism.
Two people in a healthy relationship deal with these issues in several ways. They don’t necessarily need a counselor to learn how healthy conversation can work if they just practice the following techniques.
Sit down and talk to one another if possible. This shows that neither party is preparing to walk away from the conversation; that each one is committed to it. Arms crossed show that someone is closed off and creating a barrier. Sitting back too far and at an angle suggests one is about to leave the conversation. Stand facing each other, looking each other directly in the eye. It’s harder to lie or prevaricate this way.
Instead of preparing for a return comment, each party should listen to what the other says fully and respond to it. Otherwise, it is typical to hear only a portion of what has been said and misinterpret statements. Practice reflective listening with “I hear you say” and repeating a part of what was told you. This way the other person knows you were listening or can correct anything that has been misunderstood.
Husbands and wives like to know that they are more important than email messages and little errands. Put those aside for a little while and devote full concentration on what the other individual is saying. In a successful relationship, two people make time for communication. They see it as an important part of every day. Even if there are no problems to discuss, carve out a portion of each day and a longer period every week just to talk.
Positive and Negative
Make sure that not everything you talk about is negative. Point out positive things too. You want to feel as though there are good reasons to stay together and that this relationship isn’t a project but a joy. Your “talk time” can be a chance to share the positives of a relationship if there aren’t any issues.