I’m guessing that a lot of the marriage books out there will stress the importance of communication in marriage. If not, they’re probably missing something. Here are a few things I’ve learned from experience (so far) on this topic.
Ampersand Wedding Photography via Something Turquoise
1. Know your style(s)
My husband thinks everything through completely before discussing it. And I would say that this scripture is his guideline for communicating “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think (read: TALK) about such things.” -Philippians 4:8
I wish I could say the same. I am a verbal processor – I figure out how I feel about things and/or what I want or need to do about it AS I talk about it. Whether it’s pure and lovely or messy and ugly, I have to talk it through.
2. Be willing to modify your style
I will probably be working on this one for the rest of my life, and my husband may be as well. But what we have learned, from having such different styles, is that we won’t get anywhere without a little compromise.
Because my husband tends to think (a lot, and for a long time) before he speaks, I sometimes become aggravated when I am yammering on and he continues to say nothing. He, in turn, gets tired of the endless flow coming out of my mouth. When I finally realized, the problem, I (like always) discussed it with him. I let him know that if he doesn’t participate in my “verbal processing process” (if you will) the process will just. keep. going. He informed me, in turn, that he doesn’t always know what to say or needs time to think about it. I told him that all he has to say are things like “I understand” or “I see why you feel that way” or “I agree” (only if he does, of course.) This will make me feel validated, which is an important part of the process for me, and I will probably stop talking and not continue to beat a dead horse. If he has more to say later, when he has thought it through, he is welcome to do so.
I, on the other hand, have learned to tone it down. (Well… I’m a work in progress.) When I talk to my mother, sister, or girlfriend, I could rant about 17 subjects all in one breath, intertwining them all together even if they have nothing to do with one another, and she will follow along effortlessly. This is just how God made the female brain. But the male brain likes to work on one thing at a time. I knew this, vaguely, before marriage, but I didn’t take it to heart until living with a man who just can’t follow my 35 tangents in one conversation. So I do my best to stick to one subject at a time.
3. Do not expect your spouse to read your mind
I really want my husband to read my mind sometimes. I want him to just know what I want, what I need, or what I am feeling, without me saying anything. But this is unrealistic. I have made a conscious effort (since I know this can be a wife’s downfall) to communicate what I want/need/feel and not resent my husband for not just magically knowing it. I do not expect him to read my mind – so when he does know what I want, need, or feel without me saying it (which he often does) I appreciate it all the more!
4. Leave some things unsaid
My pastor always says, “Leave 3 things unsaid each day.” It’s a good policy.
I also like this one. Before you speak, think…. Is it:
(If you didn’t notice, that spells think. It’s a good way to remember!) Leave out what isn’t necessary, especially if it isn’t kind, true or helpful. I think “inspiring” is kind of a filler to complete the acronym, but it’s always nice to inspire too.
5. When in doubt, communicate
Despite my last point, communication is important. There have been times when I second guess whether I should communicate something with my husband because it might not be entirely necessary or kind. But then I feel like it’s festering inside me. That doesn’t work either.
Don’t overthink it too much. If you’re angry, wait it out until you’re in a better space to discuss an issue. If the conversation is going in circles, take a break. If you’ve said something that offends your spouse, apologize before continuing. But communicating is one of the most important parts of marriage, if you ask me. Whatever you do, don’t neglect to do it.