Any marriage counsellor will tell you that communication is the key to a healthy marriage. In order for your marriage to remain strong you need to be able to talk to your spouse about everything – including things that might be hard. Anyone can have an argument, but it takes a certain degree of courage and trust to be able to have a productive conversation about a difficult topic. For many people, starting a difficult conversation is the hardest part – you will find tips to help you with this below. The Importance of Communication in Marriage
Good communication in a marriage requires a conscious effort by both parties. Having a light conversation at the dinner table is very different from the process of working through a tough issue or a challenge that comes up in your marriage. In order to have a productive conversation with your spouse there needs to be a certain degree of trust in the relationship – trust that you both have each other’s best interests in mind, even if you have differing opinions. The simple act of having a tough conversation with your spouse is an indication of trust and respect. It shows that you value your relationship and you value the other person enough to want to work through the hard times instead of simply arguing or ignoring the issue. Unfortunately, having a hard conversation with your spouse can be very difficult at times but it is something you can learn to do over time. Tips for Starting a Tough Conversation
The worst thing you can do when starting a difficult conversation with your spouse is to begin with an accusation. If you start things off like that your spouse will likely feel defensive and the conversation may not move in a productive direction. Instead, open up the conversation with a simple statement like, “I’d like to talk to you about [fill in the blank]”. This is enough to open your spouse up to the topic you want to discuss without making any accusatory statements.
In addition to carefully choosing your opening line, you should also think about the timing for the conversation. It is not a good idea to start a difficult conversation when you or your spouse is very stressed or tired – wait until you are able to give each other your full attention. While you are waiting for the right time, it may be a good idea for you to write down some of your thoughts on paper. This will help you to focus yourself for the conversation so you do not get off-track and it will help you review things to make sure you aren’t making any accusations. When it comes time for the conversation, be open and honest with your spouse and try to avoid statements that include the word, “but”.
After you bring up the main point for discussion and address some of your concerns, take a step back and allow your spouse to respond. Do not interrupt your spouse – they gave you their attention at the beginning of the conversation and now it is your turn to return the favor. While your spouse is speaking, it is important that you actually listen and consider their side of the issue – do not simply wait for them to stop speaking so you can start again. After you’ve both had time to speak, work together to come up with a solution for the problem and do not be afraid to consider a compromise. It may also come to pass that you cannot come to an agreement at that time – that is okay too, you can agree to revisit the topic later.
If you truly love your spouse and value your marriage you will make an effort to work through the hard times together. This may mean having the occasional tough conversation and it might not always go the way you think it will. Still, if you put in the time and effort to communicate with your spouse your marriage will be better for it.
~ Glen Community Support