click here to jump to start of article
Join Our Newsletter

Join 400,000 Aish subscribers
Get Email Updates




Communication - the Key to a Good Marriage

Communication - the Key to a Good Marriage

Effective communication means verbalizing needs and listening carefully.

by

It can't be stated often enough.If you don't have a healthy way of expressing your thoughts and emotions to each other, of speaking and being heard, then everything else will ultimately crumble.

In order to have a successful marriage you have to make yourself an expert in communication.You have to try to understand what your partner is saying on a simple level as well as try to analyze the underlying message or desire.

The last thing a woman wants to hear when she complains about her weight is a suggestion for a new diet plan.

For example, the last thing a woman wants to hear when she complains about her weight is a suggestion for a new diet plan.Actually the last thing she probably wants to hear is, "Yes dear, you do need to slim down a little!"

Nor does she want just a sympathetic ear (just when a man thinks he's mastered the art of good listening).What she really wants is for her husband to say, "You look terrific!" "You look thin!" "You look so young!"

Having said that it is important to look at what Virginia Satir calls the "metacommunication." This is the underlying message, the motivation behind the communication. We all need to be amateur psychologists and try to figure out what our partner really wants. For example, when Susan tells her husband that she isn't feeling well, that may be her way of saying "could you drive the children to ice skating lessons today dear?" or it may be her way of expressing a need for more attention from her spouse. As I'm about to illustrate we can't all be mind readers, but it is important to try to focus not just on the words being said, but what may possibly be implied as well.

It is important to hear what your spouse is really saying, but it is also important for the other side to give clues.

We shouldn't expect our mates to intuit our needs nor rely on some level of divine inspiration. If there's a special necklace you want for your birthday, point it out to your husband.It will save him the agony of choosing and spare you both needless pain.It works both ways -- maybe he doesn't want socks this year.

TELL YOUR PARTNER WHAT YOU WANT

Joe is the romantic type.Every week after he got engaged he brought his fiancee flowers.He even sent her flowers every day of the week before their wedding.

He continued this practice a number of years into their marriage.

Finally Emily, his wife, ever the unsentimental and practical one, spoke up."You know Joe, I really love you and I like that you want to bring me flowers.But I actually don't like flowers that much.And besides, they die so soon after that I feel like we've wasted our money.I'd rather you saved up for a more lasting gift."

If we want something, we need to say it.

Luckily this is a very trivial example.But being able to express yourself in the small areas will lead to open discussion in the big areas as well.If we want something, we need to say it.

It sounds so obvious, but how many hurt and angry couples come in for counseling saying "he should have known..." or "she should have realized..."?How should he have known? How should she have realized?Did you tell him/her?

DON'T RELY ON INTUITION

I have a friend who never makes grocery lists.She goes to the supermarket and relies on her intuition.This led to, at one point, 12 jars of mustard in her refrigerator.

This approach to life has relatively little impact on her, other than maybe leading to excessive consumption of hot dogs, but in marriage it could be disastrous.

This approach could be disastrous in a marriage.

Don't rely on your intuition. Ask. Don't rely on his/her intuition.Tell.

"You knew I wasn't feeling well.Why didn't you offer to make dinner? "This and many similar dialogues often lead to tension around the home.Yet the solution is so simple. "I'm really not feeling well dear. Would you mind making dinner?"

It is a common assumption that prophetic power is proof of your spouse's undying love and devotion.Let's destroy that myth right now.Tell your spouse what you want.His or her thoughtful response to your explicitly expressed needs is a sign of commitment.

While we're on the topic, don't ask for signs or proofs.It will get you in trouble. Everyone expresses their caring and develops their love in differing ways and at varying rates. A confrontation over "do you love me?" will be just that -- a confrontation. Express yourself in a way that shows understanding of your spouse's personality and he will respond in kind.

Perhaps the most essential quality for good communication in any relationship, and particularly in a marriage, is to be a good listener.

Take a minute to ask yourself if you listen attentively when your partner speaks.Or is your mind on tonight's dinner, tomorrow's business meeting, Bloomingdale's sale ... Do you comprehend clearly what you mate is saying?

LISTEN TO YOUR PARTNER

Sometimes when my husband and I are quarreling, he'll stop me in the middle to say: "What am I saying, and what are you saying, and what's the difference? "It's infuriating but effective.

Frequently I find that I've been so caught up in hearing myself talk or the passion of the moment that I haven't really been listening.I'm amazed to discover that our positions aren't that far apart, in fact they're not apart at all.

I've been so caught up in hearing myself talk that I haven't really been listening.

If this is a difficult issue for you it sometimes helps to establish structure.You could set aside a time where you are required to listen to your mate without interrupting for 10 minutes.Don't plan your defense or rebuttal.Just listen. You'll be surprised at how much you'll learn and when it's your turn you'll realize a unique pleasure in being able to express yourself freely.

Another technique psychologists favor is called active listening.There are many variations on this theme but the basic style is mirroring back what your partner says."I hear you saying..."

Keep doing it until you get it right. Maybe many of your misunderstandings are because your heard your partner wrong the first time, or you didn't hear your partner at all.

We have numerous distractions in our lives today -- telephones, televisions, and now the Internet.If we want to be listened to with concentration, we must provide the same.Hang up the phone when your spouse walks in the door.Turn off the TV.Escape from the Web.Otherwise your mate feels like second best, and when you have something to say it will also fall on deaf ears.

We have to remember that marriage creates a unity, a oneness.We can use our powers of communication to solidify that unity or, God forbid, to tear it asunder.

As the Chazon Ish, a great Jewish scholar, wrote "Treat your wife as a left hand protecting the right one ... and not an independent limb."If we accept this attitude we will recognize that spending time and energy to improve communication is the way to achieve a true marital bond.

Published: February 12, 2000


Give Tzedakah! Help Aish.com create inspiring
articles, videos and blogs featuring timeless Jewish wisdom.

Visitor Comments: 22

(21) Michelle, September 23, 2013 7:35 AM

help

My husband and I have been married for 5 months. We have three children. He is a great person. But, our biggest issue is I do most of work with the kids. I have social life. How can i communicate that to him without yellng and getting upset? He clearly don't understand my frustration about how I am feeling.

(20) Chelsea, April 16, 2012 6:56 AM

common law married

Me and my hubby have been living together for a year and 2 months... we both don't have jobs or school at the moment... we spend every single second of the day together and we normally have conversations about everything... there is hardly ever a dull moment... but as far as his fone and soccer... I do feel second best at times. I share interest in his soccer games and what not but he doesn't seem to try and share interest in anything I'm into. We are planing on getting married and I want to know if there is any way to her him to show interest in the things I do? I tell him how I feel 100% of the time but when it comes to that^^ he seems to brush it off and continues to do wat he does (soccer or YouTube)

(19) Tom - Communication Is The Key, March 23, 2012 6:45 PM

Spot on. Communication is the key to an effective and loving relationship. As you say, it's better to be honest and open from the beginning. Open communication is crucial, especially nowadays. I found this article by chance, and read it at the perfect time. It's much clearer now what I need to do in order to achieve effective communication in my life. Thank you!

(18) LaVonia, December 28, 2011 3:01 AM

Thank you for this post. I esppecially liked the line,"express yourself in a way that shows understanding of your spouse's personality and he will respond in kind." This is a great way to sum up good communication. I also have a blog and write about marraige and family issues. It is: letsthinkhealthy.com (let's think healthy.com) Thank you again for this great post.

(17) Wale Adu Israel, November 12, 2011 1:46 AM

What an essential tool

Before i thought keeping quiet mean nothing in relationship not until i entered the business. Indeed, if you really want to save your home,you got to communicate.There must be a mutual rapport between the couple if not the marriage is as good as scatter. May God save our home.

See All Comments

Submit Your Comment:

  • Display my name?

  • Your email address is kept private. Our editor needs it in case we have a question about your comment.


  • * required field 2000
Submit Comment
stub
Sign up today!