Is your marriage communication full of talking or silence?
Are your frustrated because your spouse never talks to you? Or maybe you’re frustrated because your spouse talks incessantly. Here are 2 key habits to improve your marriage communication:
- Stop talking.
Obvious, right? But when is talking the thing that will improve your marriage communication? When is it not talking?
See if you recognize yourself in the following story:
I talk. A lot. I talk about plans for the next holiday. I talk about how I’m feeling about work. I talk about our kids.
My husband doesn’t talk. He doesn’t talk when it comes to plans. He doesn’t talk about work. When I talk about our kids, he smiles but he doesn’t talk.
I get frustrated because I want him to talk to me. Communication is about talking, right? So I talk more. About holidays. About work. About kids. With all that talking in my marriage I’m trying to beam over the message: you need to talk more so we are good communicators.
My husband gets overwhelmed and shuts down. Now, in addition to not talking, he looks nervous about the holidays. Dazed about work. He stops smiling when I talk about our kids.
When I don’t get the communication in our marriage I crave, I talk more.
My husband senses my frustration and doesn’t know what to do. So he shuts down more.
Just because you’re talking doesn’t mean you’re communicating in your marriage.
Your marriage communication will improve when you learn to stop talking.
If you are a talker, you need to learn the first key habit in marriage communication: the art of The Pause.
What happens in that pause?
That pause is your way of speaking in the language of your spouse: Silence. Quiet. Absorption time. Your quiet spouse isn’t dissing you when they don’t talk to you. Your spouse is communicating in the way they know how: Listening. Absorbing. Taking time to understand.
It is vital to the health of your marriage communication that you learn to speak your spouse’s language of silence. Wait. Pause. Sit in the stillness.
Let your brain be as quiet as your mouth.
Don’t just sit and stew. Don’t let your mouth remain silent while your brain is planning your next point. Let your brain and heart match the stillness of your mouth.
In this stillness—this quiet, expectant, peaceful stillness—you’re inviting your spouse to communicate with you. Your invitation is keenly felt because you are speaking in the language of silence they understand. Your marriage will deepen.
Quiet can be the strongest tool in your marriage communication.
If your brain is busy pestering you with phrases like: if my spouse doesn’t start communicating with me, our marriage is over, try replacing this thought with a quiet mantra:
- I want my spouse to feel me reaching out with my silence.
- I want to understand my spouse. Let my quiet be an invitation.
You equate marriage communication with talking. It’s challenging for you to remain silent.
This is the gift of your marriage: you get to learn to communicate differently. The more ways you learn to communicate, the more your marriage will expand. When you communicate differently—with silence rather than words—you will understand tiny subtleties in your spouse.
If you are the talker: Pause.
Experiment with silence.
While your mouth is quiet, be aware of the words rattling about in your brain. Quiet them as well.
Practice a silent mantra as you pause and wait for your spouse to talk:
- Please feel me reaching out to you with my silence.
- I want to understand you. My quiet is an invitation.
This invitation to understand your spouse in the language your spouse speaks will exponentially improve your marriage communication.
Your marriage communication will improve when you learn to speak up.
If you are the quiet one, you need to learn the second key habit in marriage communication: the art of talking.
What happens when you talk?
Talking—even just a very few words—is rocket fuel to your marriage communication. Those words you give to your spouse are more than words. They communicate: I want to speak in your language. I want to reveal myself. I want you to know the insides of me.
It is vital to the health of your marriage communication that you learn to speak your spouse’s language of talking. Contribute. Open up to the possibility you’ll say something wrong. Give your spouse your words.
Don’t wait for the perfect words.
Are you worried about saying the wrong thing? You’re not alone. Quiet people often don’t talk because they are afraid of hurting their spouse’s feelings. Experiment. If it helps, start your sentence with a phrase of permission: I’m not sure what to say, but I want to communicate out loud because I want you to know how much I value our marriage.
As you experiment with words—I love it when you talk to me—you are inviting your spouse to communicate with you. Your invitation is keenly felt because you are experimenting and they will feel the power of your vulnerable communication. Your marriage will deepen.
If your mouth won’t open, or the words seem stuck inside you, practice with a few phrases that feel genuine to you.
- I’m not sure how I feel about that, but I want you to know I value our marriage so I’ll think about it.
- I want to communicate because I value our marriage. Please be patient as I find the words.
Can’t find the right words? Say thank you.
Your spouse drives a lot of your marriage communication with their words. Let your spouse know you are grateful for that quality in them. It’s challenging for you talk, so thank your spouse for the example they set. The more ways you learn to experiment with words, the more your marriage will expand.
If you are the quiet one in your marriage, experiment with words.
Thank your spouse for their ability to communicate with words.
Practice a few phrases so you don’t have to find new words every time:
- I want to communicate because I value our marriage.
- Please be patient as I find the words.
Your willingness to experiment with words will exponentially improve your marriage communication because even when you say the wrong thing, your spouse will hear it the right way: with the love you reach for as you try. And try again.
Talking isn’t the only way to communicate. In fact, sometimes words just fill a space and they get in the way of connecting in your marriage. But, likewise, a dearth of words can leave your spouse lonely. Your spouse takes that lack of words and imagines you don’t want to reach out toward them.
Talk. Don’t talk. They are a matched set just like you and your spouse.
When I learned about not talking I realized how much my husband has said to me throughout the years with his silence. This song, by Alison Krauss says it best.
When you both experiment with the language of your spouse—talking or not talking—it will strengthen your marriage communication.