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Marriage: Establishing Strong and Long-Lasting Communication

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Couple hugging
Credit: Sean McGrath on Flickr/CC by 2.0 with Attribution

Communication is one of the foundational stones in any relationship. A marriage without effective communication is going to lead to problems at some point in the marriage. Talking is one thing, but it does not necessarily mean communication is successful.

It is common for communication problems to emerge early in a marriage, but if recognized, these often can be easily remedied. Other times communication in a marriage can deteriorate over time. In either scenario, if interaction problems emerge in the marriage, or if specific issues are not addressed when they occur, the results of poorly communicating (or non-communicative) dialogue can grow to become a heated situation over a long period of time.

On the other hand, in marriages when two people openly (and successfully) communicate, they often find themselves sharing a special kind of intimacy which can help strengthen marital bonds. On the flip side, marriages that lack strong verbal and nonverbal interaction are likely to find distance which can lead to the aforementioned relationship problems.

There are several important components to developing strong communication in a marriage. A few of the keys to effective spousal communication include:

Being Open With Your Feelings

Openness and willingness to share and discuss feelings is a vital component of a successful relationship. "Stuffers", or those who are unwilling to share feelings with their spouses, are ultimately likely going to find themselves having serious communication issues in their marriages. In order for effective communication to occur, both partners have to be willing to share and discuss what they are feeling - good, bad and anything in between.

If one or both partners choose to repeatedly sweep feelings under the proverbial rug, this pattern has high potential to lead to misunderstandings, resentments and, if built up, can become explosive when the person(s) does eventually decide to share. Any harbored resentment or anger could come out in a negative fashion, leading to bigger issues.

Share Complete Honesty

Truthful discussion is another important component in marriage communications. Half-truths, omissions, or outright lies can have a devastating effect on a marriage. Even those seemingly harmless little white lies, over time, can add up to become a big problem between two people. Even little lies can lead to mistrust, putting a crack in the marriage's foundation. Bigger lies about more serious problems, won't crack a foundation, it'll seriously damage it. 

For effective communication in a marriage, honesty is not only the best policy, but really should be the only one.

Foundation crack
Credit: WayTru on Flickr/CC by 2.0 with Attribution

Lies can quickly crack the foundation of a marriage.

Choose Your Timing Carefully

Ideally, for communication to work it is important that both spouses are able to participate, listen and pay attention to the conversation. If one spouse has had a bad day, or is distracted by an issue or event outside of the marriage (i.e. at work or a problem with the kids), it might not be the best time. If the issue is important and needs 100 percent attention, it is probably better to wait to start the discussion until both partners are able to talk with no interruptions or distractions. Choosing the "right" time will better ensure good contact and understanding is made. It should be noted, however, sometimes there is just no "right" time to share certain types of information or an issue might be pressing. In that scenario, the best potential time should be chosen to talk, even if it is not ideal.

Select Words Carefully and Be Respectful

When communicating it is important to select positive words that foster proactive results, not negative or demeaning words that signal conflict, or even abuse. Being respectful, even in times of disagreement is also important.

Amy Bellows, Ph.D., in an article published by PsychCentral states:

Respect allows you to accept another person’s point of view whole-heartedly. Consider and value your spouse’s perspectives or suggestions. Let your partner know that your respect and value for him or her supersedes the specific issue you are discussing. 1

If anger is going to play a role in a particular discussion, it is important to choose words carefully when speaking. Any hurtful or mean words uttered cannot be taken back.

Be Proactive, Not Reactive

For the most part, proactive behavior brings about a better result than reactive behavior. In marriages, a common relationship problem occurs when one or both spouses tend to react to a situation rather than take a deep breath, reflect and internalize what's going on; doing the latter can impact both the response and outcome of the situation. Proactive responses almost always results in better communication. On the other hand, reactive responses tend to often get pretty ugly.

Be a Good Listener

Communication works both ways. If a person wants to be heard, he or she also has to be willing to listen. Effective communication is a two-way street. It only works when both spouses feel they are able to be heard by the other person; it is then successful conversations can take place. It is a good idea to set aside time on a routine basis to just talk and listen to one another. Over time, this leads to a stronger relationship.

Communication is a very important ingredient in marriage, but it is not always a given that two people who commit to one another are able to successfully do it.  Sometimes it takes a lot of work and practice, but with a commitment to trying from both partners, these obstacles can be overcome.

Without solid communicative techniques in place, a marriage may develop more serious problems that can fester, grow and potentially destroy what is otherwise a good relationship.

[Related Reading: 4 Ways to Strengthen Your Marriage and Reduce Risk of Divorce ]

The Plantation Garden in Norwich
Credit: Elliott Brown on Flickr/CC by 2.0 with Attribution

Marriage is a journey shared by two people, and sometimes couples have to take things just one step at a time.

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Bibliography

  1. Good Communication in Marriage Starts with Respect "Amy Bellows, Ph.D.." PsychCentral. 26/02/2015 <Web >

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