5 ways to instantly improve communication in your marriage

5 ways to instantly improve communication in your marriage April 25, 2016

couple beach hug

I recently sat down with a couple who is struggling through some miscommunication in their marriage. They love each other, and they have a strong relationship, but their communication in marriage seems to be stuck in a dysfunctional cycle of misunderstanding and frustration. Their struggle is a common one. Miscommunication is at the core of many marriage problems, and when a couple improves their communication, they’ll usually improve the overall health of their marriage at the same time.

I gave this couple some tips that I’ve learned along the way from some of the healthiest and happiest couples on the planet. I believe that if you’ll apply these five communication tools in your own marriage, you’ll see some instant improvements.

In no particular order…

1.In disagreements, remember that there won’t be a “WINNER” and a “LOSER.” 

In marriage, disagreements are inevitable, but fighting is optional. Couples shouldn’t fight because a “fight” has a winner and a loser, but in marriage, you’re always on the same time so you’ll either win together or lose together. In disagreements, move forward with mutual respect to find a solution where you can win together.

2. When your spouse is sharing with you, ask, “Do you want me to LISTEN and offer SUPPORT or listen and offer ADVICE?”

Especially for my fellow husbands, we tend to want to “fix” every struggle our wife shares, but sometimes we just need to listen and offer support and encouragement instead of a 12-step action plan for “fixing” the problem. Your spouse usually needs your encouragement and support more than he/she needs your advice. When you ask these clarifying questions up front, it can help you both gain more for the conversation and avoid mutual frustration.

Dave Willis quote husbands when your wife is aksing you questions it's not to interrogate you but to connect with you davewillis.org

3. Answer the PHONE when your spouse is calling and try to stay off your phone when your spouse is with you.

Our smart phones are powerful tools for staying connected, BUT they can also be powerful distractions that harm communication in marriage. When your spouse calls, do everything you can to answer. It’s a simple way to show him/her their place of priority in your schedule. When you’re together with your spouse, do all you can to stay off the devices so you can focus on each other.

4. Take the “SECRET-FREE Guarantee.”

The healthiest marriages are completely honest, transparent and vulnerable in their communication with each other. They don’t keep secrets from each other and they don’t tell lies. There are no hidden passwords, purchases or pursuits. If you’re keeping secrets in your marriage, please come clean. Secrecy is the enemy of intimacy in marriage.

Dave Willis quote a painful truth is always better than a hidden lie davewillis.org

5. Be each other’s biggest ENCOURAGER; NOT the biggest CRITIC.

Your marriage should be a safe refuge where you both gain encouragement from each other and not constant criticism. If the tone of your communication is characterized by nagging, correcting, complaining, criticizing or any other form of negativity, then a toxic environment is being creative. Speak life to each other. Build each other up, and don’t tear each other down. Be the one who wipes away your spouse’s tears; not the one who causes them.

For more tools to help you build a thriving marriage, please check out my new book The Seven Laws of Love and also connect with me on Facebook and Instagram.

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