When we conducted a recent survey to see what the readers here at the Young Wives Club would like to see more of, several responded by saying they would like to see posts on how to foster better communication in marriage. We all know just how important good communication is (we hear that all the time!), but what does good communication actually look like? How do we get there? My hope is that you will find something in this article that you can take and use in your own marriage to grow in your communication skills with your husband.
10 Tips for Fostering Better Communication in Your Marriage
- Wait for the right time.
This is key, ladies. I recently recorded a podcast interview with my husband, and we talked about a husband’s perspective on a host of different issues ranging from sex and respect, to communication and work. When I asked him how a wife should go about bringing up important topics with her husband, he said it is important to wait for the right time. We want to be sure we have our husband’s full attention, that he is not burdened or weighed down by other distractions and worries in that moment, etc. I thought that was great advice, and it honestly reminded me of how Esther handled the serious situation of having to talk to her husband, the King. While her life circumstances are far removed from ours, there is something to be said for wisely waiting for the right time to bring up important topics. Don’t attempt to have those discussions while the little ones are present and interrupting, while your husband is trying to get some important work done, etc. Exercise wisdom and discernment and wait for the right time. Otherwise, we’ll risk causing our husbands to want to run for the hills rather than actually listen to us!
- Speak in the right tone.
This is important. During our podcast interview, I asked my husband why it is that men want to run in the opposite direction when they hear the phrase, “Honey, we need to talk.” He said it’s because that instantly puts them on edge, making them wonder what the problem is. He made the point that if, instead, we wives can nonchalantly, with an encouraging and lighthearted tone, bring up a topic to discuss at a relaxing time in a non-confrontational way, that men would be far more willing to listen to whatever it is we have to say without instantly jumping to the defensive or getting worried and moving into “fix it” mode. Makes sense!
- Remember who you married and why.
When life gets hard, your marriage feels a bit tense, and communication isn’t going so well, first stop and remember who you married and why. That man is still there. He is still the guy you married and somewhere (even if they are hard to see!) those same characteristics which caused you to fall in love with him are present. Search for them and your desire to communicate well, with respect and love, will begin to grow.
- Don’t take things personally and don’t make things personal.
We wives do our husbands a terrible disservice when we expect them to be our best girlfriends, squealing with excitement over every little thing. Don’t do that. If you find it hard to get excited over cars and sports, don’t take it personally when your husband doesn’t get excited over shoe shopping and the latest news on social media.
Likewise, don’t make things personal. If you are communicating with your husband and find that you seriously disagree on something, do not make a personal attack on your husband for having a different perspective than you. Just because his thought-process is different does not necessarily mean that it is wrong. And even if it is – he still deserves your respect.
- Listen twice as much as you speak.
Growing up, my mouth got me in trouble more than anything else. My dad was always reminding me of Proverbs 10:19, “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise.” He would also make the point that God gave us two ears and one mouth, so we should be listening twice as much as we are speaking. I would call that wise advice! Rather than only pausing in a conversation so that you can think about what you want you say next, actually listen to what your husband is saying and also listen to the heart behind the words. Good communication requires good listening skills just as much (if not more so!) than it requires good speaking skills. This practice leads to our being able to,
- Seek to be a student of your spouse.
This is why listening is such a crucial aspect of communication. In order to grow in our marriages, cultivate intimacy, and increase communication, we need to be students of our spouses, seeking to get to know them at the deepest levels so that we might better understand where they are coming from and why they hold the positions they do. This will help us to communicate in ways which speak love, respect, and honor to them. That is a primary purpose of communication – it is not for the sole purpose of you being able to share all that is on your heart, but rather it is also for the purpose of getting to know the other person better, as well.
- Be real, open, honest, and vulnerable.
Don’t unfairly expect your husband to read your mind. Speak plainly to him, tell him what is on your heart, and don’t beat around the bush. True intimacy in all its forms and fashions requires vulnerability and honesty at the deepest levels as you grow closer to the other person and in your understanding of them.
- Desire the strength of your marriage more than you desire being right.
Sometimes we are in a conversation with our husbands and we come to that crossroads moment: are we going to continue to fight for our way, to try to make our husband see our point of view, or are we going to respect our husband and his viewpoint, desiring the vitality of our marriage and our depth of intimacy more than we desire proving a point? I hope I more often choose the strength of my marriage over my own sinful pride.
- Have a regular, pre-scheduled check-in time.
In the midst of work, ministry, volunteering, children, or whatever else is making you busy, it can be easy for husbands and wives to drift apart, each becoming busy in their own responsibilities. It’s so important to do whatever it takes to plan out and pre-schedule regular times when you can check in with your spouse and assess how things are going, what needs work, what is weighing on each other’s hearts, etc. Maybe you can do this during a once a month date night or have this be something you do weekly on Sunday afternoons or a practice you have every night after the children go to bed. Whatever it takes, do it. You’ll be glad you did!
- Get a third party involved, if necessary.
Lastly, I realize that sometimes couples come to an impasse and can’t seem to, no matter how hard they try, grow in their communication skills – every chat becomes an disagreement, every disagreement becomes an all-out fight, and every fight results in a shut down of communication. If this is happening to you, perhaps it’s time to involve a third party, preferably an unbiased one (your mother may not be the best choice here!). Your pastor, a trusted friend or advisor, or a reputable Christian counselor could be a great source of help to you.
The Bottom Line
The whole point to all of this is simply that we need to be treating our husbands, when it comes to communication, in the same way we would want to be treated. That’s the crux of the matter. Do that, and you will be well on your way to cultivating wonderful communication skills in your marriage.