In my house, my family and I try to communicate as effectively as possible and avoid miscommunicating.
We are successful, most of the time. Even the best communicators can fall into some common pitfalls of miscommunication.
Unfortunately, conversations sometimes result in misunderstanding in marriage, families, with friends and colleagues.
Let’s focus on married couples.
Have you ever said something to your spouse that you did not have any ill intent and yet it sounded hurtful and offensive to your partner?
“It’s not only what you say, it is also how you say it.”
What does that mean? It means that when communicating, along with the words, the tone of your voice conveys meaning.
When communicating we need to keep in mind that perception is reality. It is not your perception of what you said we need to only focus on but a good question to find out is, “What is your spouse’s perception of what was said?”
Is your intent landing with your spouse the way you want it to or is there a miscommunication?
Are you and your spouse doomed to a lifetime of poor communication and forever misunderstandings? Hopefully, not!
However, this is a very common pattern in relationships. So, what do you do?
Talking to Your Spouse
Some tips for when you are talking to your spouse and hoping to be heard.
- Slow the conversation down
- Talk from your feelings
- Explain your perspective
- Don’t blame or criticize or show contempt
- Share what you would like to see happen
Truly Listening to Your Spouse
Some tips for when you are listening with the desire to truly hear your spouse.
- Postpone your agenda
- Don’t defend
- Listen to understand, not just to reply
- Show empathy
Watch Your Tone and Try to Match Your Words
What if my spouse doesn’t hear the same “tone” that I hear?
Sometimes the disapproval or negativity is not in the words, yet the tone is “screaming” it.
Self-awareness is key.
The “how you say it” matters.
- What is your body language saying?
- Are you closed off or are you open?
- Are you making eye contact?
- What is the volume of your voice?
- What does your facial expressions look like, happy, sad, mad, frustrated, etc.?
- Are you pointing your finger?
- Does your tone sound aggressive?
- Are you using sarcasm?
Talk about how to handle this type of misunderstanding in the future.
We are not looking for a solo winner and a loser. We are looking to win together!! So, hug, kiss, connect and make sure you walk away feeling heard, that you spoke in a tone that matched what you wanted to say and that you also truly listened.
Silent and Withdrawn or Loud and Yelling
If this doesn’t happen, your spouse might go silent and withdraw or loud and yell. Either way the relationship could have some damage. This can lead to chips in the foundation of the relationship that over time becomes resentment and disconnection. It doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time.
Think about weight for a moment, you don’t gain 30 pounds over night. And you don’t lose 30 pounds overnight.
Well, you don’t build a wall of resentment overnight. Maybe it took years of miscommunications, feeling unheard and unimportant. It won’t be solved and healed in one conversation.
It will take time, effective communication skills and making sure your marriage is built in a safe environment that gives the opportunity for each of you to share.
Some couples can do this on their own and some couples need some assistance. With the proper guidance and a relationship expert versed in helping couples repair and time, it can happen.
As a couple you can heal resentments and learn how to effectively communicate so misunderstandings are minimal. And if they happen couples counseling and marriage therapy provide you with the tools to repair.
Repair or Ignore
Many couples don’t repair they just move on, sweeping it under the rug. How high can the rug get?
Eventually you and your spouse will trip and fall! Has that fall happened or is it about to tip over? Does your relationship remind you of a big Jenga game?
If the fall has happened or if it is about to tip over, this needs to be talked about and now is the time. Contacting me can help.
I have a gift of connecting with both spouses and being able to see each of your perspectives. Along with my insight, experience and knowledge, the tools and activities that I share with couples transform their marriages from a couple who has shaky communication to a couple who can effectively communicate on any topic.
Your Relationship Expert,