Wanna Stay Married? You Gotta Talk!
I‘ve discovered, again, how important communication in a marriage really is. It’s amazing how easily it is to slowly stop talking about what you deem “the small stuff” until one day you wake up and realize you don’t talk about anything, big or small. You each go about your days engrossed in your own jobs, your own friends, your own experiences and feelings until eventually you feel like you are living with a roommate. You forget what it was like when you actually focused on your relationship instead of focusing everything on your future, your finances, your career, etc. You forget what it was like to get excited when your partner came home from work, or took you out to a movie…the excitement, the spark, the connection is just gone.
You know how you could’ve avoided this? Talking. Yep, just talking. Know how you can fix it if the above describes your relationship? Again, talking. I can tell you from personal experience that talking can both prevent and fix a seemingly dead and depressing relationship. Talking can re-kindle the connection, the romance and the passion. Talking can make you remember why you got together in the first place and allow you to see a happy future once again. Talking can make you feel more intimate and emotionally closer to each other. Talking can force you to take time out of every day to really focus on your partner, making both of you feel important and valued. Now granted, talking won’t solve every or all problems – there are going to be other things that go along with talking to make a relationship truly whole. But talking is the biggest, most important step you can take to both repair a relationship that’s falling apart and to prevent a relationship from falling apart in the first place.
I found an article that I had published back in 2011 that talks about the important of marital communication so I’m gonna post it as a conclusion to this post. This article wasn’t just research for me, I truly believe what it says.
Where would a marriage be without communication? In the toilet, nonexistent, in divorce court, in turmoil – that’s where a marriage ends up without communication. If trying to narrow down one of the most important aspects of maintaining a successful relationship, communication is right there at the top. Too many times, when a couple is asked why their marriage ended in divorce the answer is “we stopped communicating”. A successful relationship puts an effort into making sure that communication stays open, includes mutual respect, and maintains a connection between both partners.
Talking: Not Just Words
Contrary to popular belief, communication in a relationship is not just the words that come out of each partner’s mouth. It also includes the tone of the voice and body language. Now, words are very important, do not misunderstand, but they are not the be all and end all of marital communication. One person can be communicating in a very calm tone of voice, but if the other person is rolling his/her eyes or making “uh huh” sounds while watching TV, this will not be effective communication. The person talking will assume from the body language and lack of attention that what they’re saying is not important and will most likely stop talking.
According to Terry Northcutt, Director of Marriage Enrichment Programs at Family Dynamics Institute, “Most couples engage in meaningful conversation less than 15 minutes per week”. That is not much time to connect through communication with your spouse. He suggests that an effective way to overcome this obstacle of finding time to connect and have meaningful communication with each other is to learn to incorporate it into other tasks. For example, talk while taking a walk, or while grocery shopping, while riding in the car, or even during television commercials (Northcutt, 2011). It is still important to make time just for the purpose of communicating, but finding ways to incorporate it into everyday tasks will lessen the chances of complete non-communication.
Talking: Requires Respect
Communication in a marriage should also include mutual respect. There are going to be times when one or both partners are furious and not in a respectful mood; this might be a good time to go cool off and resume that particular conversation later. However, as a general principle, marital communication that is based on a mutual respect for each other will happen naturally and be ultra-productive. It is hard to want to communicate with someone that is constantly being critical, or constantly speaking in an intimidating manner. Northcutt points out in his article that good marital communication avoids disrespect.
Talking: Needs Attention
One last major defense against a non-communicative marriage is undivided attention. Reading email, watching television, or texting another person is not showing respect to the person trying to engage in a conversation. Each partner deserves to feel important and providing undivided attention when the other person is talking is an effective, yet simple, way of making that person feel validated. This could be as little as five minutes on the couch each night, conversing with no distractions, or it could be a weekly date at a restaurant, all attention focused on a mutual conversation. No matter the location, time of day, or length of conversation, enhance marital communication with direct eye contact and undivided attention.