Enhancing Communication in Marriage

In marriages, many arguments and hurt feelings can be traced back to communication problems. It's not unusual for spouses to stay in a continual state of frustration, feeling misunderstood and unappreciated.

Unexpressed feelings can pile up and poison the relationship. When you repress your anger, it will always come out later, usually after something minor has upset you.

You may find that it's difficult to have a complete conversation without you or your spouse leaving the room before the conflict is resolved. The emotional buttons that your spouse pushes in you can make you want to bolt and get away from your uncomfortable feelings and reactions.

Learning to communicate more effectively with your spouse requires that you be fully present and attentive. You have to be committed to really listening and hearing, not only with your ears but also with your heart. You want to eliminate any communication blocks that prevent you and your partner from growing in understanding and intimacy.

Communication blocks are anything that you do, verbally or non-verbally, to keep you from connecting deeply with another person. Some examples of communication blocks in marriage are:

* Rolling your eyes and looking resigned or exasperated when your spouse is talking;

* Sighing deeply and loudly when your spouse is sharing his/her viewpoint;

* Looking at your watch or a clock repeatedly;

* Not stopping what you're doing when your spouse is trying to have a serious talk with you;

* Not making eye contact and not giving your partner your undivided attention;

* Using the time when your spouse is talking to think about other things unrelated to the conversation;

* Tuning your spouse out because you've heard the same thing repeatedly and are convinced it's the same old speech;

* Becoming defensive and angry immediately instead of showing your partner the respect of hearing him/her out;

* Belittling your spouse, name calling, cursing, shaking or pointing a finger, or getting in his/ her face.

* Interrupting your partner before he/she is finished talking.

It has been said that for every minute you are angry with someone, you lose sixty seconds of happiness that you can never get back. It just makes good sense to do everything you can to preserve the good will and intimacy of your marriage when conflict, anger, hurt feelings, and disagreements occur.

If you truly love your partner, you will not want to rip him/her to shreds verbally, or to ignore or discount differing opinions and beliefs. You will want to do everything you can to insure that you have quality communication in your relationship and that you are communicating your caring, love, and respect to your spouse

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "The most important thing in any relationship is not what you get but what you give." While you cannot control how someone else will react to your efforts, you can commit to doing all you can to create a safe environment where intimacy can flourish.

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Nancy J. Wasson, Ph.D., is co-author of Keep Your Marriage: What to Do When Your Spouse Says "I don't love you anymore!" The e-book is available at http://www.KeepYourMarriage.com , where you can also sign up for the free Keep Your Marriage Internet Magazine. Contact Nancy at Nancy@KeepYourMarriage.com.

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