Communication in marriage… Everyone knows it’s important, but do we really know what good communication entails? Are you and your partner communicating enough and effectively?

Psychologists are always harping on about the importance of good communication – and for good reason. A successful marriage consists of two individuals with different needs, wants and emotions, and for your marriage to work, you and your partner need to be able to communicate these things effectively. But how do you know whether the two of you are communicating effectively or not? You’re too close to your relationship to give an unbiased assessment and few of us have people who can honestly say where you’re excelling in your relationship and where the two of you are falling short.

In a article, Life Coach, Relationship Expert, and Founder of LoveQuest Coaching, Lisa Concepcion, says: “People who communicate effectively in their relationship collaborate and are truly a team. There’s no feeling of competition and no desire to be right but a big desire to be happy. There’s agreement, respect, more connection sexually, and the ability to problem-solve, set goals and meet them. There’s also a high level of security in oneself and in the relationship. People with enough communication feel connected to the other person yet not in a codependent way. They feel as if they can say anything to their partner and commit to communicate with love and respect.”

No couple is perfect and even those who get pretty close to being perfect can benefit from working at their communication skills. Here are six ways:

  1. Make your partner feel valued

To feel valued in your marriage, you need to feel seen and heard. Maybe you’re barely hearing his golf story above the kids firing questions at you while you’re cooking dinner, but all he sees is a woman who doesn’t value him enough to give him his full attention. Be fully present when your partner speaks to you – put down the phone – and repeat what he said back to him to make sure you understood. Really listening to your partner is one of the most important skills you can cultivate in your marriage. Check-in with your partner to find out whether he is fulfilled by the way you communicate. Maybe he’s sending five texts with emoji’s throughout the day, but you’re yearning for a face-to-face conversation, even if it’s only five minutes. Talk about these needs.

  1. Ditch the white lies

Many couples believe white lies are fine, but it’s important to remember that small lies get bigger and multiply. If she asks you whether you like her new, red hair colour, be kind but honest when you say that you prefer her natural hair colour. Maybe she wouldn’t have felt the need to change her hair colour if you had complimented her natural hair colour in the first place. Women are equally guilty of telling white lies, especially lies of omission. If you have to bite your tongue when he manhandles your breasts during foreplay because you’re scared of damaging his ego, nobody benefits. There are obviously different ways to relay news to your partner. Before you speak, put yourself in his/her shoes so that you are sensitive when you deliver bad news.

  1. Don’t make your partner feel stupid

Some couples have a different kind of dynamic that includes lots of sarcasm and teasing, which then becomes their love language. The danger of this is one of you taking the game just that bit too far. Make sure to never demean, preach to, or judge your partner. The goal of conflict isn’t to ‘win’, but to find a solution to the problem together.

  1. Talk about the small and the big things

A good marriage isn’t one where everything is always a big, funny joke. It’s also not a relationship where only the serious things are discussed. A good relationship is one that includes both small talk as well as deep, meaningful conversations. Romantic relationships often discuss the deep, important things before getting around to the small talk, which is kind of backwards. Before a couple can really know each other, they discuss everything from life philosophies to deeper topics. Only when they know and understand each other fully do the conversations become lighter and more focused on day-to-day things. To maintain your emotional connection and make sure your love tanks are full, you need to be able to laugh together and ask each other the deeper questions about life. It’s also important that both of you feel that you can share whatever is on your mind without being judged or mocked

  1. Don’t let things fester

Resolving conflict immediately is one of the most important conflict resolution techniques. Talking about a problem and trying to resolve it as soon as it crops up is the best chance you have at not letting the argument get out of control. Sweeping things under the rug only lets it smolder until you explode. This leads us to the next issue: if your arguments regularly get out of hand and include rage and verbal assaults, then you need to pay particular attention to this tip. “Couples who communicate effectively work through their differences without exploding or blaming each other. They reach a compromise and, many times, they agree to disagree.”

  1. Choose your timing wisely

Discussing your deepest disappointment during the ad break of the SuperBowl isn’t a wise move. Confronting someone after a long day of work can also be triggering. Criticising your partner’s technique during sex – the same technique he’s been relying on for 17 years – can extinguish the passion in an instant. The point is that you need to choose your timing wisely.

So, how do you know whether you and your partner are communicating enough? That’s difficult to answer because ‘enough’ for one couple might not be enough for the next one. Quality and quantity – with quantity also being important – must be determined by the both of you. If your conversations are effective, then you’ve already won half the battle.

Article written by Annelize Steyn