Do you ever wonder why so many married couples speak poorly about each other? It seems, at times, to be done in a joking manner. Still, the seeds of the heart are watered by our words, so we must be mindful of what is planted. The little things matter in any healthy marriage. I hear it all the time: women saying how their husbands are idiots and men talking about how unbearable it is to be around their wives. You see it on TV: the wife is always an overbearing loud mouth and the husband can barely tie his shoes without assistance. I’m being dramatic, of course, but the truth is that these kinds of social norms get disseminated, repeated, and ultimately accepted. Significant communication problems arise.
Here is the problem: the mind is an incredibly powerful thing, and with it we create our own reality.
We assign scripts to people. Basically, we write ourselves a story about the people around us, and that is who they become to us. We often box our friends, families, and significant others into the pages we write for them. By doing this, we don’t allow them to evolve, to grow, to change their minds, or to correct their mistakes. How limiting, right?
Honest, heartfelt, and healthy communication in marriage is impossible, or at least much more difficult, when we assign predetermined roles and introduce unnecessary negativity. To stick with the metaphor of writing: by speaking negative energy over our marriage and our partner, we are writing a horror story instead of a love story. Let that sink in. Many times it’s actually ourselves who are responsible for creating the life we want to get away from so badly. Ouch!
I say, give your partner a clean book with blank pages.
Stop holding them accountable to their past mistakes once they’ve made amends. Holding a grudge will only lead to more negative feelings. It may sound cliche, but sometimes we’ve just got to let it go. They may have hurt or disappointed us once, but we continue to hurt and disappoint ourselves over and over again by reliving the past in our mind.
Speak words of gratitude.
Good communication in marriage can be achieved with simple steps. Remind yourself (and then your partner, out loud) what you are grateful for. Demonstrate positive feelings with positive body language. When something’s got you down, focus on being your best self. Your spouse cannot create your happiness, nor can they bring you inner peace. Therefore, find love within yourself, find peace within yourself, and find joy within yourself. Plant the seeds of gratitude in your heart and water them with words of affection and appreciation.
I’m not saying you should never feel annoyed or frustrated or hurt. It is up to you, though, to decide if that experience will be a one-time thing, or will you carry it around with you for a week, a month, a year? Will you allow yourself to feel the pain, express those negative feelings in a healthy way, forgive, and move on? The choice is yours. Though it can be tough to forgive, happy couples depend on it. If you have trouble with the forgiveness aspect of communication in marriage (as many of us do), the best place to start is by forgiving yourself. Admit your past mistakes, learn from them, and forgive yourself for making them. Once you manage this, forgiving your significant other will be much easier.
Admit your past mistakes, learn from them, and forgive yourself for making them.
There are, of course, important boundaries to set.
No one should have free range to hurt you over and over again. But, again, the boundaries are set by you. That classic elementary school mantra holds true for communication in marriage: if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all. You may be thinking, “So I’m not allowed to confide in my partner about what I’m going through for fear I may be speaking negatively?” That is certainly not what I’m suggesting. Ultimately, a true confidant is someone who will listen without judgment and respond to your needs, though they should also hold you accountable to voice your frustration and pain in a productive way. That’s what effective communication is all about.
Looking for more advice on maintaining a healthy marriage? Found out how to keep your marriage (and husband) alive after having a baby, discover 10 ways to spice things up, and learn how mixing business and marriage can be beneficial to both.