How to Overcome the #1 Problem in Marriage

communication listening marriage relationships Jun 04, 2024
Loving older couple

By far, the number one problem identified by married couples is that they can't communicate effectively. It's actually somewhat hard to believe that this problem is so pervasive in homes today when you consider that these same couples often claim to not have difficulty communicating with friends and co-workers. 

One of the main reasons couples have such a difficult time communicating at home is because their conversations involve "high stake" relationships along with "high stake" issues that are often highly emotionally charged. As a result, one of the best ways to guarantee better communication with your spouse is to learn how to be a skilled listener. Read the quick, yet important principles and guidelines below to begin improving your communication today.

1. Listen twice as much as you talk

"It is far better to keep quiet and let people think you are foolish than it is to speak and have their suspicions confirmed."

2. Commit to not interrupting

"Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him." King Solomon

3. Listen for accurate understanding 

"Seek first to understand, then to be understood."
Stephen Covey

"Hearing is merely picking up sound vibrations. Listening involves understanding what you hear."

4. Avoid mind reading and drawing premature conclusions

Acting as a mind reader or jumping to premature conclusions will likely take you down the road of misunderstanding.

5. Ask questions to gain more information and to seek clarification

The more fully and clearly you understand thoughts, feelings and needs of others, the more likely you are to offer a constructive response.

6. Practice active listening skills

Active listening skills involve non-verbal cues that communicate interest in the person as well as what they are saying such as nodding your head, maintaining good eye contact, and leaning forward. 

7. Avoid non-verbal messages that communicate disagreement, disgust or disengagement

Rolling the eyes, looking at the ceiling, taking deep sighs and looks of disgust are a sure way to quickly stop good communication in its tracks. 

8. Use paraphrasing in order to make sure you understand the message correctly

Paraphrasing or summarizing what you heard by using a phrases such as "I heard you say..." is a great way to make sure you understand what the other person communicated.

9. Be aware of your mental filters

We all have biases, prejudices and past experiences that influence what we take in with our senses. Pay special attention to the mental filters you have that may help to distort the original message. 

10. Avoid rehearsing your response

If while another person is speaking, you are rehearsing what you are going to say in response to what you think you are hearing, it is impossible for you to be listening! 

I'm confident that if you consistently practice the tips listed above for the next thirty days you will see the quality of your communication improve significantly.

 Live, Work and Relate Well!

Dr. Todd

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