Common Pitfalls of Communication in Marriage
Every marriage survey says that poor communication is the leading cause of divorce. In fact, researchers can predict whether a couple will divorce by simply observing how the husband and wife communicate.
But why is communication in marriage so hard? Why are so many couples getting it wrong? Lastly, what are the common pitfalls that married couples should watch out for?
Many people assume that they can reliably “guess” what their partners are thinking, feeling or doing. They also assume that their partners’ have the exact same ability so they do not need to clarify anything. Such assumptions are the cause of most of the misunderstandings in marriage.
The best defense against assumptions is the good old “mirroring” technique. This is where you repeat what you’ve heard in your own words and then give your spouse a chance to either affirm or correct what you’ve said. This can be a bit tedious when you’re starting out but with time, it becomes part of your communication style.
Some people think about things in extremes. To them, everything is either black or white; there are no gray areas.
This kind of thinking makes it difficult to consider other alternatives besides what you think is the right option. Anything short of complete agreement from your spouse feels like a loss so you feel the need to keep going until your spouse “surrenders.”
The first step to fixing this type of thinking is to recognize that you have this tendency. This doesn’t mean that you should beat yourself up about it but it’s important that you learn how to catch yourself doing it.
Secondly, replace this thinking with the truth. Any time you catch yourself thinking in absolutes, remind yourself that black and white or good and bad are not the only options.
When you’re having a difficult conversation with your partner, it’s important to stick to the issue at hand. Bringing up all the unresolved issues from the past can leave your spouse feeling attacked and overwhelmed. On the other hand, sticking to the current issue reduces the scope of the conversation and makes it much easier for you to understand each other and find a solution.
Every time you catch yourself detouring into the irrelevant, consciously redirect the conversation. If your spouse is the one taking a detour, let them know you’re happy to discuss the other issue at a later time but for now, you’d like to resolve the current issue.
Communication in marriage is a lot easier when you learn to recognize and avoid these common pitfalls. It can be difference between average and great communication.