Sound familiar? Ask any expert and they will tell you that without effective communication in marriage, it is bound to fail. What's sad is that people do not know how they got to this point. "What did I do?" "Where did we go wrong." "It's all your fault."
Communication can be broken down into 3 parts, hearing, understanding, feeling.
1) What am I hearing?
Just listening to your spouse is not going to get you anywhere. How many times have you felt that your spouse was not listening to you? They walk off from a conversation or they start playing games on their phone as you are spilling your guts. Even if they aren't interested in what happened at work, it is still nice to know that they care about what you have to say and that the story is important to you. Right? We go throughout the day being ignored by our boss, co-workers, patients, friends, family, the guy who cut in front of us in line. Why should we have to put up with being ignored at home? Well, we shouldn't.
Truth is, what you are saying may not be what they are hearing. Recall a recent conversation in which you felt bored or started tuning that person out. What did you hear? I usually hear myself going through my to-do list and trying to figure out what's for dinner. Did you tune them out on purpose? Did you really try to listen to them and hear what they had to say. How did they respond when you missed a question or asked them to repeat something? If they started yelling or shut down, well then you didn't really hear them. It hurts when someone we love doesn't hear us and only pretend to care. It's okay, you can say ouch!
2) What am I trying to say? What do I want them to understand?
The next part is simple. What message are you really trying to tell your spouse? Surely it is not that Cynthia from HR is having a pot luck dinner at her house. More than likely it's the fact that she scheduled an event on the same day as your sister's baby shower, knowing you already invited your co-workers to the shower. How rude! Well, instead of beating around the bush and telling your husband about every pencil you sharpened today, why not get to the point?
I speak when necessary and only if I have something valuable to say. Do I find myself rambling on about random topics, of course. I'm human. Does my husband tune me out? Absolutely. Do I tune him out when he goes through an entire conversation? Yes, indeed. It's not that we don't love each other or care about what the other has to say. It's more about is it really relevant and necessary. The next time you are getting ready to tell your spouse about something that happened to you, think about the message you really want to say. What do you really want them to take away from the story? Is it that your best friend saw the new Tyler Perry movie or that you feel betrayed because she saw it with someone you don't like.
3) What am I feeling?
That brings me to the final point. Feelings are everywhere. Our emotions dictate a lot of our responses and reactions. Let's go back to the couple mentioned above. The husband shuts down every time the wife yells. The wife yells louder every time the husband walks off. It's a cycle that never stops. All of their yelling and slamming doors are affecting the children's behaviors. Sound familiar? You can always tell a couple who does not know how to communicate or is having serious problems by the way their kids act in public or in school. So how do you change the cycle? Well, what does the husband feel when the wife is yelling? What is he hearing? What is the wife really trying to say. In most cases, the wife is degrading the husband and making him feel like less of a man because he is not living up to her standards. They have switched roles. The wife is now remembering how low she felt in her last relationship and taking her frustrations out on her husband. Doesn't really seem fair. How often are you reliving parts of your childhood when you communicate with your spouse? Are feeling sad, alone, scared, confused, depressed? Chances are you are putting your feelings onto your spouse and they don't understand why. They feel you are overreacting and dramatic. You feel unheard and mistreated.
The lesson in all of this: listen unto others and you would have them listen unto you. It's no fun being misheard and misunderstood. So why do you ignore your partners cries for someone to listen to them?