8 Exercises to Improve Communication Skills in your Marriage
Communication skills are important in all aspects of life. But when it comes to our marriage, they are most important skills you can develop as a couple.
Communication is the key to understanding our partner’s and for them to understand us. Without effective communication, relationships can go from being with the love of our life, to having just a roommate.
Below are 8 concepts and exercises you can use to improve your communication skills.
1. Active Listening
This means listening to understand. As humans, we have a tendency to listen to respond rather than to understand. Practicing active listen is one of the most basic and important communication skills you can have in your relationship.
If you are always listening to respond, then you are not trying to understand your partner’s perspective. It’s important to show your partner understanding, not only because they need/deserve to be understood, but also because it will give them more of a reason to actively try to understand you.
2. Listen without interruption.
A way you can practice active listening, is to set aside time where one person gets to speak for 5 minutes at a time without any interruption. During this time they will have to communication with nonverbal techniques to convey empathy and understanding. Communication takes practice, but over time, it gets easier and easier.
This is a great opportunity to practice active listening as well. After the timer goes off, discuss your feelings with each other and then switch roles. This will help you learn how to understand, and how to communicate not verbally. This will also help establish trust.
3. Practice using “I” statement’s
Something that often gets in the way of good communication skills is having a tendency to concentrate on what the other person did wrong. Instead of saying “you did this” or “you did that” try stating how you feel. For example, I feel _____ when you do/did this.”
Couples who fight effectively are well-practiced at stating their feelings, instead of placing blame.
4. Give Solutions
When your partner has hurt your feeling and you have told them how it made you feel, a good next step would be to offer a solution. In other words. tell them what you need them to do to avoid hurting your feelings again. If you are the one who hurt your partner’s feelings, make sure to work on the solution that was suggested.
Coming up with solutions to problems can be surprisingly difficult. But it’s also one of the best communication skills out there. We often get stuck on what we’re feeling in the moment, and can’t get past it. But with practice finding solutions to whatever hurt your feelings makes problems go away much faster!
5. Ask your how you can improve
Another exercise you and you partner should both try to improve your communication skills to simply ask. Ask your partner how you can be better a better partner in general.
Also ask specifically what you can do to improve in specific aspects of your relationship. Example: if you are the less tidy of you and your spouse, ask them for tips and tricks on how to get better at thinking about tidying up.
6. Tell each other WHY you love each other
This is something you can and should do every single day to improve your communication skills. Set aside a minute or two every day, before you leave for work, or before you go to bed to tell your partner why you are glad that they are in your life. Tell them why your are grateful for them, thank them for the contributions they make to you family. And tell them why they are the person that you chose to spend your life with.
Even if you are fighting a lot and don’t want to, do it! When you are upset, this becomes an exercise in letting go, and swallowing your for something more important. This will help you two come closer together and help both individual’s self esteem.
Bonus: Write a letter to each to each other once a week or so, telling your partner why you love them and why you appreciate them.
7. Be first
This is important for any relationship. In my experience, with people in general, if you want something you have ask/ present first. The same is true in your relationship. If you want something to change in the relationship, you have to be the one to start that change.
Just like you wouldn’t expect a friend to be thinking about going on a trip you want to go on with them, you can’t expect your partner to know exactly what you want in your relationship either. So when it comes to improving your communication skills, you need to be the one to start putting these activities in practice, and your partner will follow suit.
8. Talk about your future/goals
Something that has always been a good exercise for me, has been to talk about the future with my spouse. Over the years, we have planned out our lives, our hopes, and our dreams.
There are a few reasons why this works out so well as a communication exercise.
- It helps identify differences in your goals. This is actually a good thing, because it forces you to communicate with other to find out how you can help each other achieve your individual goals for the future.
- It’s a way to build a foundation in each other. If you have one vision of your future together, you can work on building it together. Through communication you can discover your dreams, and it will deepen your emotional connection.
If your vision for the future is similar, there becomes a point where it is difficult to let go of your partner because they are so attached your future plans. The goal here is to make so that you can’t see yourself with anyone else.