Speak in Love: Communication for a Healthy Marriage | CFS Blog

Speak in Love: Communication for a Healthy Marriage

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Effective communication is essential to having a healthy relationship. Being able to express your feelings and identify your needs with clarity is important for a happy marriage. Still, knowing the best way to provide constructive feedback and discuss delicate topics can be a challenge.

 

These four strategies will give you and your partner the confidence and skills to speak in love and communicate with kindness, respect, and gratitude.

 

Speak in Love: Communication for a Healthy Marriage

 

1. Start with Yourself

Use “I” statements to break down barriers and facilitate a conversation. Instead of using “you” statements (i.e. you make me angry when you leave your clothes on the floor) and immediately placing your spouse in a defensive position, try using this formula to help you begin a conversation and express your feelings.

 

“I feel___________ (emotion) when _____________, and I need or prefer____________.”

 

2. Practice Reflective Listening

Ensure that you are hearing your partner correctly with reflective listening. Miscommunication can be the culprit of serious conflict in relationships. Limit the opportunity for it to affect your marriage with this simple strategy, and remember to listen to your partner without trying to fix or analyze their problem.

 

“It sounds like you were/are_______(emotion) when____________(context).”

 

3. Verify & Clarify

Experts say that up to 90% of all human communication is nonverbal (tone of voice, body language, hand gestures, eye contact, facial expressions, etc.). These additional factors can cause misunderstandings and conflict. To help, use these three steps to verify and clarify information with your partner.

 

  • This is what I hear you say: (insert what you heard).
  • When you said that, did you mean (insert your perception)?
  • Okay, hear is my response to that (insert your thoughts or feelings).

 

4. Harsh Setups vs. Soft Setups

You have probably heard the phrase, “It’s not what you said; it’s how you said it.” When you begin a conversation with criticism, it puts your partner on the defensive and derails your opportunity for a positive, productive conversation together. When you begin with gratitude, it changes the direction of your encounter. Consider the difference of a harsh setup and a soft setup:

 

Harsh Setup: Why do we always have to eat the same meals every week?

 

Soft Setup: I really appreciate your cooking. Are there any meals I can prepare for you this week?

 

You also have another important tool available to you as you and your spouse seek to strengthen your relationship: God’s Word. The words of Ephesians 4:15-16 provide us guidance: “Speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”

 

Also remember that there is forgiveness and grace when we fail or face overwhelming relationship challenges (as we all do, since none of us is perfect). “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”-1 John 1:9

 

RESOURCES TO SHARE: Would you like these marriage helps in an easily sharable format? Follow us on Facebook and Instagram (@ChristianFamilySolutions) or download the free marriage toolkit here.

 

This blog was adapted from the presentation “Healthy Communication in Marriage” by Kent Robinson, Licensed Professional Counselor with Christian Family Solutions. To learn more about Kent, please view his video biography here.

 

If you would like to learn more about the educational presentations provided by Christian Family Solutions, and how they can serve your community, please visit our website here.