Effective communication requires skills that are developed through practice,
and that are perfected through trial and error!
Most couples who are having difficulties in their relationship feel their communication is the problem. But verbal communication is complex. Misunderstandings are common and normal. We all need patience and practice to become great communicators.
Real communication happens when there is winning, and teamwork. Winning is finding and implementing solutions that both people can feel good about! This takes an open mind, good attitudes toward each other and plenty of sacrifice and compromise. Do you consider you and your spouse a “team”? If so, then day-to-day life is teamwork!
Teamwork means there is no such thing as “win-lose”, in marriage relationships.
If we are on the same team, it is either win-win or lose-lose for both you. Dawson
The real message is often what is beneath the words. What is the meaning from your spouse’s frame of reference? Why is this important? What are they really feeling?
Effective communication comes down to listening and speaking with your heart. We must learn to communicate at the heart level and allow the feelings of our spouse to “touch” us. What do I mean by “touch”? This is that place where you can feel what your spouse is talking about and understand how they are feeling about the situation. The real goal of effective communication is to understand the emotional message of the speaker. Why? Because when people feel emotionally heard and understood they tend to relax and to trust that you really care. The byproduct of that trust is, you increase their sense of safety and they can be fully open in the conversation. This builds trust in the relationship.
The Goal: Fully understand one another at the emotional level!
Why is emotional understanding so important?
- Healthy relationships work at building a foundation of trust
- Each person has room to be who they are and feel how they feel
- Safety first! Choosing to care is the first step in creating safe communication
- When we believe our feelings are understood and matter, we relax and become more open and cooperative
- ”Emotions are the voice of the heart”
- When the voice of the heart is valued, the heart and spirit will remain open
- Problem solving effectively starts only when we understand the feelings involved
- Communication is not complete until: 1-The listener understands what the speaker is saying,
- 2-The speaker feels understood
PROBLEM SOLVING CAN BE A HUGE WASTE OF TIME
Remember, if you want to solve problems; which is a huge part of our communication as couples, STARTING with problem solving is a waste of time. You may be asking yourself, “How is this possible? If we don’t solve the problem, then how can we move forward and get to a solution?”
The reason this doesn’t work is, we naturally will start with who is right and who is wrong. Or we start looking at who is at fault or to blame. Another very natural, human thing to do is to begin talking about what really happened. Remember we all have different views and will rarely see or even hear the situation or event the same way. Starting here will only lead to arguments that are NOT about getting to yes!
Starting anywhere except attending to the emotions will derail you most of the time.
DO YOU HAVE ISSUES OR EVENTS?
Learn to differentiate between issues and events in your communication. An event is a time limited happening that most likely has underlying, bigger issues. An issue is generally a pervasive root problem seen in many events or situations in a relationship. These can cause couples to start and stay in unhealthy cycles!
Here’s a GREAT Example: a large, unexpected credit card bill comes in the mail leading to a heated argument. This is an event that happened. But the problem is deeper: an ongoing financial disagreement or difference in preference on how to handle money-which is the issue. This ISSUE hasn’t been properly talked through and processed together.
Usually, couples working on issues at the same time an event is happening end up in unhealthy conflict leading to escalation (raised voices and heated emotions), negativity (name calling and ignoring one another), and they vary rarely get to a solution.
Conflict is usually driven by what couples are NOT Talking About
- Control and Power-Who’s in charge? Do you feel controlled?
- Caring- Do you feel loved and cared for?
- Recognition- Do you feel valued by your partner for who you are and what you do?
- Commitment- Are you going to stay with me? Are we “done?”
- Integrity- When you feel challenged in how you view yourself.
- Acceptance- desire for acceptance and fear of rejection.
So, how do we handle Issues and Events?
Events can often be handled by observing good communication rules and taking breaks!
Issues can be kept smaller and less negative by regularly dealing with the problems that come your way.
Hidden Issues usually respond well to open, safe and clear communication.
So what we are saying with all of the above is: we know communication is extremely essential for great marriages. BUT, everything above is the nuts and bolts. If great communication is going to happen, there is an attitude and approach that must precede good skills of communication.
Watch your inbox next week for the first step in making your communication thrive with your spouse.