How to Communicate with your Husband
Most people know that communication is essential to a good marriage. Often, my Halifax counselling clients ask me how they can have good communication if their husband doesn’t listen? Communication is a two-way process, and it is important that both partners are invested in it. Fortunately, it is possible to improve communication even if just one person starts. The key to good communication is listening. So, if you want someone to listen to you, start by listening to them.
Developing communication skills
How to listen
Just listening seems so easy…but good listening skills are learned. Listening is not just waiting for your turn to speak. It is important to give your full attention to your husband. Listen for understanding and to be open to what you hear. Let your husband know you are listening by giving some non-verbal feedback. While he speaks, make eye contact, nod your head, look interested. Remind yourself what is import to him is important to you. Ask questions if you don’t understand something. Check in occasionally to see if you are understanding what he is saying by letting him know what you have heard. You don’t have to agree with what he says, you just need to hear it and let him know you heard him.
How to respond
Good communication also includes talking, of course. It is important to speak so that he will listen. Start with something he wants to hear. No one wants to sit down for a talk when they know they are going to be criticized or challenged. Start with something positive like letting him know you appreciate something he did recently that you liked. When you need to bring up a problem or something difficult, think about it first. How will this affect him? How might he think or feel about this? How can I express myself in a way that will not offend or disrespect him? Think of a way that you would want someone to bring up a problem to you.
It is important to speak from your point of view. For example, use “I” statements. Such as, “I feel hurt when you…”, rather than “you hurt me when you…”. It would be hard for your husband to argue with you if you are just letting him know how you feel. Keep your conversations to one topic at a time. Don’t drag everything that needs work in the relationship into one conversation.
When to talk:
If you have something on your mind that is important to talk about, plan a time and place to discuss it. You don’t need distractions like TV or children when you are actively listening and talking. Find a time and place when you can both give your full attention to the conversation. Pick another time if you are angry or feeling emotional. Emotions can highjack your communication skills and pull you off course. If you or your husband are getting defensive, you have hit a nerve and it is time to take a break. Take a breather so you can calm yourself and try again later.
If your husband doesn’t listen to you, try improving your communication skills. Be a good listener and be a respectful and caring speaker. These things will make it easier for your partner to hear you. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Be easy on yourself if you don’t get it right every time and if you need help, reach out to a Halifax for guidance. Good luck and have fun.