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How To Communicate Effectively: Avoid These Two Communication Problems In Marriage
If you want to learn how to communicate efficiently, avoid these two communication problems. They lead to marriage problems pretty fast. The first is trying to be the boss of your spouse and the second is trying to be the expert (Related Article: How To Communicate Better Through Boundaries).
Communicate Effectively – Don’t Be Your Spouse’s Boss
Want to know one of the quickest ways to start a fight with your spouse? Try to tell them what to do when you have marriage problems. When you try to be your spouse’s boss, they will naturally push back. It might be a small push back or it might be a big one.
When you are uncomfortable, one of your tendencies is to tell someone else what to do so that you don’t feel uncomfortable anymore. For example, your spouse is using pornography. This obviously hurts you. So, one of the temptations is to tell him, ‘Stop using pornography!’. Isn’t it healthy to want him to stop? Yes, it is. However, you aren’t his boss and he needs to decide on his own to stop using and start living a more healthy life. Even though your desire for him to stop is good, telling him to stop will likely end in a fight or shame on his end.
So, what do you do instead? You share with him the raw data of the situation and your emotional experience with the raw data.
For example, here is the raw data, “You have been using pornography for several years without me knowing and I found out by happening on your browser history.” And here is your emotional experience with the raw data, “I feel scared that I learned about it this way and worried that there is more.” He then gets to decide what to do because of this. Because he stepped on your toes, one of his natural instincts will be to apologize and to try to do something different (Related Article: Pornography Counseling: Find Recovery And Healing). Give him the chance to self correct and figure out what to do.
Communicate Effectively – Don’t Be The Expert On Your Spouse
Want to know the second quickest way to start a fight with your spouse? Try to tell them about them. Interpret their behavior and tell them your conclusion. This might lead to a fight quicker than trying to be their boss. You telling them, “You just don’t care about me” is usually met with a correction on their part, at the least. They usually don’t agree with your assessment.
The truth is, you are not the expert on our spouse. You don’t know them better than they know themselves. So, stop pretending you do. Ask them if you have a question about their behavior or the meaning behind it. You can also check in with them to see if your assumption is correct. Ask them, “When you say things like that to me it makes me wonder if you care about me. Can you help me understand what’s going on for you when you say those things?”
Understanding how to communicate effectively in a marriage, especially one with marriage problems, is crucial. These two principles are what I teach couples in marriage therapy in Utah.