We’ve all had times when we can’t get the other person to understand our feelings no matter what we say. This situation can cause frustration and anger on both sides. One person feels that the other isn’t listening, while the other gets impatient with their lackluster communication skills. This sort of breakdown in communication can be bad for anyone, but it’s especially difficult in a marriage. So let’s discuss a few different ways that you can get your spouse to understand you.
We Often Accuse Instead Of Ask
We’ve mentioned before that the real key in communicating with a spouse when you’re frustrated is seeking to understand them first. The adage has been around for decades; seek first to understand before seeking to be understood. It’s a simple statement but can be challenging to put into practice.
The best way to understand someone is to ask them questions. Ensure that you’re in the right environment before attempting to do this. Don’t try to start serious conversations when you’re stressed with other issues, busy, out in public, or in any other circumstance where it’s possible your spouse could already be tense.
You should also have the right attitude toward your spouse so they don’t feel pressured. Ask your questions without seeming like you’re trying to attack them. In other words, don’t be aggressive, accusatory, or overreact to the things they might say. Trying to give a rebuttal in the middle of your spouse’s answer isn’t advised. The first part of the adage is to seek first to understand. Your role in this initial conversation is to listen to your spouse fully and let them tell their side of the story.
There will be disagreements but resist the urge to tell your spouse that their answers are wrong or that they’ve misunderstood. You should be a guide in this conversation, not a teacher. Their feelings are theirs alone, and you can’t mix your feelings with theirs. No two people on this planet think exactly the same way on every subject. So expect that they’ll say something you don’t like so that you don’t act negatively when it does happen.
Defense Might Win Championships But Not Marriages
The point of asking your spouse questions is to honestly understand their feelings and point of view, not to get ammunition to attack them or prove a point. Being defensive during this conversation will keep you from hearing what they’re actually saying.
Being defensive doesn’t only mean reacting to the things they say; you can go into this exchange already defensive because of preconceived notions. For example, you might have already had friends or family tell you something about your spouse that you’re now questioning. The problem with information is that it can be skewed each time it gets passed along; you can only know the truth by asking questions.
It’s also possible that you’ve imagined scenarios that don’t actually exist. Stringing together a list of behaviors that have changed with your spouse over the last few months doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re having an affair. Try to leave any biases at the door before you have this conversation. As long as you’re convinced in your mind that what you’ve heard is right, you’re going to continue to put them in a specific category where you are not going to listen to what they’re saying. You’re going to pass it through the filter of what you’ve already decided is true. You have to be completely open and understand that you may have misread this altogether.
Your posture and body language can appear defensive as well. Don’t cross your arms, furrow your brow, or give them a hard stare like you’re interrogating them. Sitting beside your spouse will show that you are still equals and that you care about their feelings. Even though it might be stressful if you’re worried about an affair, take the time to be warm and open. Again, this goes back to choosing the right time and environment to do this where you’re both able to relax. You are more likely to get your spouse to talk to you openly and honestly when they feel that you are a safe place for them.
Effective Communication Can Lead To Healing
If you’re the spouse on the other side of the conversation, what can you do to bring the relationship back together? The first step is understanding why it’s difficult for you to talk with your spouse. There could be many reasons, such as insecurities or resentment for how your spouse treated you in past conversations. You might even feel guilt for something you have done. But some things need to be talked about, regardless of the hurt. Nothing will change in your relationship until you can effectively communicate about it.
No matter which side you’re on, situations like this can feel like you and your spouse are on two separate pages. One of the best ways to get on the same page and get your spouse to understand you is doing something where you both learn similar verbiage or processes. Our workshops at Marriage Helper can put couples on the same playing field and give you a platform to help rebuild your relationship. Your situation won’t change until one, or ideally, both of you, try something different. Our Couples Turnaround workshop has been saving marriages for over 20 years and has a 70% success rate. It’s a great place to start learning how to communicate again. You can also contact one of our Client Representatives here to figure out the next best steps for your situation.
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