5 Communication Tips For Couples
As I did with the first marriage related post I published: “5 Easy Ways to Show Your Wife You Love Her“, I’ll preface the following by saying I am certainly not an expert on marriage or relationships. I am, however, an advocate of sharing things that work.
These 5 communication tips are things that Bri and I practice regularly. We’re not perfect at them, but we have seen them yield great results in terms of how we interact with one another, and the overall health of our relationship.
Give them a shot, if they prove to be of any help in your relationship, then by all means share the article!
So, here’s 5 tips that have helped us:
1.) Define “The Line” – and Respect it
Prior to getting married, Bri and I had an extensive conversation about our communication expectations of one another. We understood that marriage would be an entirely different ball game than dating. I mean let’s be honest, the pressures (if any) of being boyfriend and girlfriend pale in comparison to those felt by a married couple.
We knew there would inevitably be times of stress, disagreement, and frustration; so we defined “the line” of what we would not tolerate when it came to how we would communicate.
Bri and I decided we would not curse at each other. We decided we would not put each other down – either by name calling or using derogatory terms (even jokingly), and we decided that we would not raise our voice at one another.
We defined the line.
Now defining the line means nothing if you wont respect it. Granted, that’s easier said than done – especially in a particularly heated moment of disagreement.
Here’s the thing though, once the line is crossed once – it’s really easy to cross it again. So from the onset – respect the line.
*I think it’s imperative to note that when defining what you would and would not tolerate of one another, honesty remains at the forefront. If something in particular upsets you – share it. It’s always best to be open and get it out, then to not – and let frustration fester.
2.) Be Open to Critique
This one was tough for me at first…
I remember one Sunday afternoon Bri and I were driving home. I had just finished preaching at my Dad’s church, and as I always did, I asked Bri for feedback. She told me that overall the message was great, but that at one point I said something that came across rudely. I got super defensive.
Bri told me she brought it up not to criticize me, but to help me understand how what I say may be perceived. Her intentions were pure. She was trying to help me be better. I was acting prideful.
Being critiqued is never fun, but when ones betterment is at stake, it’s best to lower the pride and accept the feedback.
There have been times when I’ve told Bri she’d said something, or did something, that I didn’t particularly care for. Conversations like those are never enjoyable, but when there is mutual respect and openness to critique, the conversation goes a lot smoother.
The point is not to nitpick each other, but rather establish an open line of communication in which ones actions may be recognized, and potentially modified, for the sake of relational comfort and respect.
3.) Be Supportive
You know what I’ve always found annoying?
Having to refrain from talking about certain things, with certain people – especially family and close friends.
One of the things that I’ve always loved about Bri is how open and supportive she is. I can tell her anything and everything without the fear of backlash or criticism. This isn’t to say she doesn’t share her reservations about what we’re talking about, it just means she’s always been willing to listen and respond in a manner that’s made me feel loved and supported.
Don’t “Close the Door”
Having to refrain from having certain conversations, with certain people, is the result of “closing a door”. Once a conversational door has been figuratively closed on a person a few times – they’ll stop trying to open it.
Personally, I find this to be a dangerous game.
Think about it, if you constantly have to walk on egg shells with someone, chances are you’ll find somebody else less rigid to talk and share with. In the context of any relationship, this is less than ideal.
4.) Measure Your Words
It’s never ended well for me the times that I’ve blurted out the first things that have come to my mind. So if there is one tip that I strongly recommend – it’s this one. Measure your words.
Communication is an art that requires a bit more tact and finesse than we think it does. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be honest, it just means we ought to carefully consider how something may be perceived – especially to those we love.
I’ve come to realize that one of the greatest qualities a person may possess is self awareness. We all know that one person who has no sense of how they come across; they say and do things however they want with no consideration given to their actions, and the results thereof.
Don’t be that person. Especially in a relationship.
The times that I’ve hurt Bri the most have been because I’ve failed to measure my words. I’ve said things “in the moment”, without entertaining the idea of how they may effect her.
Thus, the old adage still proves to be sound: “think before you speak”.
5.) Fight in Private
In full disclosure, this is a personal pet peeve for Bri and me. The definition of discomfort and awkwardness is two people fighting or bickering in public.
I remember one time at a restaurant I became…overly passionate… about a conversation Bri, myself, and a friend were having.
Bri was getting uncomfortable, but me, being the impassioned debater that I was – decided to keep going. It got to the point that Bri had enough; she leaned in, and whispered (firmly) for me to stop.
Thats when I knew I screwed up.
Bri didn’t argue with me at the table – but once we got in the car, that’s when she let me have it. I’m totally kidding! In reality though, she expressed to me how embarrassed she was. She told me how I was acting obnoxious and childish. I knew she was right.
The conversation was done in private, because sharing genuine feelings and disappointments like those is not something to do in a public setting. Moreover, it was this private setting that afforded me the opportunity to seek forgiveness from Bri. Despite the circumstances, it became an empowering relational moment.
All in All
The topic of communication within the confines of a relationship is expansive in nature. As I mentioned in the beginning – I’m no expert. Although I may say things matter-of-factly, I am very much in tune to the reality that as my relationship with Bri grows, some points that I’ve made may be tweaked or fine tuned.
However, as with all things that have proven to be successful for me, I can’t help but share them. I encourage you to consider any or all of the 5 tips mentioned above.
Do you have any communication tips of your own that you can recommend? Feel free to share them below!