Active listening involves showing interest and true understanding during communication. When your spouse is communicating it is easy to think that by the simple act of listening you are engaging in effective communication. Unfortunately, for effective communication to take place listening is not enough. Engaging in active listening involves assuring the other person that you are present and focused. This can be done by, for example making eye contact, listening to understand, putting aside what you would want to say at that moment, not interrupting while your spouse is speaking and to ask follow-up questions to gain a better understanding of what is being said.
In a marriage, both partners should take the responsibility of using uplifting and positive words towards each other. It is impossible to always accept your spouse’s behaviour or agree with everything they say. That is why it is so important to use constructive criticism when you find yourself not agreeing with your spouse instead of constant destructive criticism. Destructive criticism is one of the biggest reasons why many marriages may fail. It is ineffective and involves no room for growth, change or development. It involves reactions such as an attack, blaming, making the other person feel bad about their behaviour and not solution-focused. Constructive criticism will always be more effective as it involves being objective and non-judgmental, focusing more on the solutions rather than the mistakes. The emphasis is more on the situation or the behaviour, rather than on the person. Instead of offering criticism, it offers alternative suggestions.
If a disagreement takes place between both partners it is very easy for negative emotions to overtake, such as frustration, anger or even stress. Emotional management during these circumstances will help you to understand your spouse better and improve communication. Should it be too difficult to contain these negative emotions at that moment, the best solution will be for both to remove themself from the situation and revisit when ready. No matter the problem, staying objective and removing yourself (own feelings and emotions) from the situation allows one to see the problem from a clear and different perspective. If your spouse has done something that upset you, it is helpful to view it as something separate from him or her and to rather focus on the behaviour than blaming and accusing them directly.
It is unlikely for a marriage to be a success if both partners are prideful and unwilling to be vulnerable. Admitting your mistakes when you are wrong shows your spouse that you are willing to be open and that you are not afraid of your weaknesses. The key is not to apologize for the sake of avoiding conflict, but rather to understand what the problem is and to learn from every mistake how to be a better life partner.
Showing appreciation towards your spouse is one of the many ways one can build a marriage on a solid foundation. Over time it is natural to get used to the efforts made by your spouse and acknowledging or verbalizing it to them may start to decrease. Focusing more on the things your spouse is not doing rather than what they are can influence the relationship and even cause you to drift apart. Never assume that your spouse knows how much you appreciate their efforts. Make sure to verbalize your appreciation and gratitude towards them on a daily basis. By doing this it will bring you closer together and improve overall communication and create a better understanding amongst each other.
To improve one’s relationship and connection with your spouse, it will always require regular quality time spent together. Great communication grows from connecting and making sure that you invest all your focus and attention towards your spouse. The unfortunate reality is that many times couples who have children will leave spending quality time together as one of the last things on their list of to do’s. Life can be busy, especially with a growing family and all the daily requirements and responsibilities that one have. But there must always be time scheduled for connecting otherwise communication will decrease and this may lead to many other unnecessary feelings, conflict and misunderstandings.