It's funny how our communication has changed since my husband and I have been married. It seems like when we were dating, we were always kind and loving with one another. We had all the patience in the world. But I guess something happens when you throw bills, a house, and a kid into the mix - something called stress, perhaps - and our communication skills have seemed to go downhill, leaving us both wounded and even worse equipped to face life's demands as a united front. If you want to get an "A" for communication in your marriage, avoid the following five pitfalls.
Assuming negative intent
My husband and I both have the tendency to automatically assume our comments are meant to attack one another, when most of the time, we are innocent of that crime. We end up getting defensive against each other for no reason at all. A former coworker had a sign hanging in his office that read: "Always assume positive intent." That attitude can go a long way in preventing oversensitivity in a relationship.
"Well, that would have never happened if you hadn't…" In my experience, nothing stings more than a loved one casting blame. It leads to guilt, defensiveness, and oftentimes, accusations back. Put the kibosh on outright or passive-aggressive accusations. Instead, take joint responsibility for everything in your relationship, or, if something really is your partner's fault, don't bring it up in an accusatory tone.
You know what they say about assumptions, right? Oftentimes, my husband and I assume the other person knows what we're thinking, heard what we said, or are going to take care of a particular job. Sometimes we are on the same page, but most of the time, it's better to be explicit in our communication and check in whenever we're unsure.
It's easy when there is a lot on our plates to neglect the fun side of marriage. We forget to be light-hearted, look for the joy in the life, and make each other laugh. Not taking life too seriously can build a solid foundation on which to face the true trials and tribulations we're bound to face in our marriage.
My husband and I can have a condescending attitude with each other without even realizing it: giving instructions or repeating ourselves in an overly exaggerated tone, making fun of the other for not knowing something, using sarcasm, or constantly correcting what the other has said. Oftentimes, the attitude doesn't even come across in words, but in tone. We communicate so much more effectively when we are respectful of each other.
I think at the core of each of the 5 "A's" above is patience. Having the patience to stay calm and respectful, give the other the benefit of the doubt, and stop and smell the roses can nip most communication pitfalls in the bud and lead to happier, healthier relationship.
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