Good communication keeps relationships moving forward. We all have times when it feels like we are on the same page with people and times when it feels we’re from different planets. There can be a tendency in relationships to fall into a communication rut. Here are five tips to help you gain perspective on the way you and your spouse or significant other communicate.
1. Keep in mind the difference between man’s brain and woman’s brain. Man’s brain is like a locker for boxes. Each area has it’s own compartment. There’s a box for sports, for family, for faith, for TV. Men take out one box at a time and usually ignore everything else. They are very focused. Pastor Mark Gungor, who talks about this in “Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage” claims there is a “nothing box” that contains, well, nothing. He also explains that women’s brains are like spaghetti. One thought leads to another which triggers something else. This allows us to multi-task, but may make it harder to focus. Very few women can claim to think about nothing. If we can recognize this difference in how we store and recall information, it will help us in gaining each other’s attention.
2. Evaluate how you refer to your spouse or betrothed. Do you refer to characteristics in an “always” and “never” manner? Typically, when this terminology is used it’s regarding a negative habit. In the Communications field, there is something known as a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you say or think something is so, you often act, even subconsciously, in a way that makes it come true. If it’s important to talk something over, be accurate. Encourage your (prospective) mate to fulfill his or her potential.
3. Take responsibility for your own emotions. Your spouse may do something less than stellar. Everybody makes mistakes from time to time. You are in charge of how you respond. Instead of saying, “You make me so angry” rephrase it to “I am angry (upset, bothered) that…” or something similar. This puts you in control of yourself.
4. Be cautious of how you use sarcasm. Sometimes it’s used as a way of coping, sometimes as a private way of showing affection. Don’t go overboard, though. We’ve probably all seen instances when people have been deeply wounded through sarcasm, especially if it’s meant to be intentionally hurtful. Consideration and respectfulness are like oil that keep a relationship running smoothly.
5. Do take time to tell your significant other of what you love about him or her. Be encouraging when he or she feels weak. Remind your man or woman of the strengths he or she possesses and show appreciation.