If lack of communication is the number one reason why couples get divorced, it stands to reason that couples who want to stay together should work on their communication skills. Nothing about this subject is new. But everyone needs a reminder, now and then, on the importance of open and honest communication. To be honest with your spouse, you first have to be honest with yourself. When you emotionally shut down and go into “Yes, dear” mode, resentment builds. You’re not really keeping the peace because you don’t even have peace within yourself. Trust your spouse with how you truly feel. When all the cards are on the table, you are in a better place to discuss a mutually beneficial solution. “No, I’d rather not go with you to the store during the playoff game. I would be willing to go either before or after.” And as long as you’re being honest, make sure that your words match your body language. Most of what is communicated is non-verbal. If you say “Sure, I’d be happy to'” while sighing loudly and rolling your eyes, which message is coming across louder?
Of course there are two sides to effective communication. As the listener, you have to do more than just hear words coming out of your spouse’s mouth. You have to understand the words as well as the overall message being conveyed. This means you can’t spend your time thinking of what to say next. Don’t be judgmental or critical. Be courteous. Give your spouse your full attention. And while on the topic of courtesy, “please” and “thank you” still go a long way. It’s easy to become so familiar with your spouse that the niceties fall away. But remember that your spouse is the person you promised to love more than any other. Surely they deserve the same consideration you would give a stranger.