You may have heard your wife express her desire for better communication, but opening up isn’t something you’re able to get straight. You’re aware of the statistics pointing toward this issue leading to divorce, but does this have to be the situation for your relationship? One thing many men may not realize is they’re not alone in their struggle with communication, the anxiety it causes, and the depression that may result if their relationship is falling apart. The good news is, with effort, you have some solutions, and things will begin feeling better.
You schedule meetings, doctor’s appointments, and other important events. Scheduling time to spend with your wife is just as important. When you take time out of your working life and other family obligations to focus on her, she’ll not only feel appreciated, but she’ll know for sure you heard her desire for communication and that you’ve made her a priority. It may not be realistic to schedule in time to go out together once per week, but scheduling in at least one hour of quiet talk per week may be doable. Work together to see what works for your relationship and, over time, you’ll figure out what is comfortable and what can become routine.
Talk it Out
When communicating with your wife, it’s important not to avoid topics that are uncomfortable. Effective communication includes discussing things that are good, as well as bad. Rather than being passive-aggressive, thus causing a divide in the relationship, you should talk through bothersome issues so they can be worked on as a couple. This conversation helps the two of you overcome issues together, so they don’t come up again in the future or, if they do, the two of you know how to handle them as a couple.
Check Your Emotions at the Door
For many, communication often hinges upon emotions. You may be feeling sadness, but it could present itself as anger. Your wife may be feeling confusion, but it may present itself as depression. Being diplomatic about and in control of emotions is difficult, but not impossible when communicating.
- Take a step back to evaluate the situation.
- Think the situation through and assume responsibility for your emotions.
Remember that, no matter how angered or annoyed you become by her opinions, it’s important to take a deep breathe and keep your emotions in check. If you react upon emotions each time she speaks, then you are not being an active listener or an effective communicator. You’re essentially just being reactionary, and this could lead to her shutting down and not believing you’re interested in communicating with her.
Effective communication does not include being a “right” fighter. This stance leads to further conflict more often than not. Showing your wife respect as she presents her opinion, no matter how much it deviates from yours, is the first step toward the betterment of communication. You’ll only insult her if you present the following behaviors:
- Berating comments
Displaying this type of behavior is not only immature, but it is also detrimental to the marriage. It will lead you down the opposite direction you want to go in and contrary to the goals you want to achieve.
Be a Good Listener
Good communication goes hand-in-hand, which means your wife also has things she would like to express during the conversation. You’re going to be opening up, this is true, but you also have to show her how well you can listen to what she has to say and pay attention to her needs. She needs to speak her mind and feel safe knowing you’ll understand and, in doing so, this will lead to a stronger relationship. If she’s used to you dominating the relationship and doesn’t feel comfortable expressing herself, then encourage her by showing her your willingness to listen and that you’re open to what’s on her mind.
Do You Still Need Help?
The type of confusion you’re experiencing is not uncommon. Many men need help with family and couples counseling because, when attempting communication in their marriages on their own, they feel like their falling flat on their faces. Rather than thinking divorce if your only option, seeking help with anxiety and depression associated with the issues related to your marital problems is a better option.
Where Can Men Turn?
Engaging with a seasoned couples therapist could be an option. You may be surprised to find relief and a sense of optimism in as few as 2-4 counseling sessions. There are many, many resources out there, Psychology Today, GoodTherapy, and Networktherapy among them to search for professional help.