Many men ask me, “How do I communicate better with my wife?” Let’s explore the topic carefully. I want to begin with an email I received from a husband…
I’ve had it. I’m convinced I’ll never be able to communicate with my wife. Our communication is pathetic. We’ve been to counselors who have had us practice communication techniques and read books that preach communication strategies also. Nothing helps. And we really try. I mean we always do our homework. I’m not just saying that. We really want to improve our communication so we’ve gotten help about how to do so and we take it seriously, but nothing makes a difference.
If we can’t communicate with each other effectively, then what hope is there? I’m really tired of this. I just can’t go on like this. It’s so frustrating for both of us day after day.
How do I improve communication with my wife?
Cherry Hill, NJ
Communication is the most talked about but also the most misunderstood issue in marriage.
Unfortunately, thousands of authors, experts, counselors, and therapists have wasted years of their time and the time of their readers and clients focusing on improving communication in the marriage.
In a sense, it’s a good thing that all these efforts to improve communication have failed. If you think Ted feels bad about his marriage now, imagine how he’d feel if he understood what his wife was really saying. I’m serious. Better communication only makes a bad marriage worse. Let me explain.
The most important factor that determines the quality of a marriage is the FEELING that a husband and a wife have for each other. How do you FEEL about your spouse? If you feel warmth and love toward your wife then you’re probably happily married. If you feel anger and resentment toward your wife then your marriage probably stinks.
So where do your feelings toward your wife come from? What’s the source of your feelings? It’s certainly not your communication. You use communication to express your feelings. You see, the feelings come first. They’re already there. Communication just transports them between you and your wife.
Let’s say you have dirty drinking water coming from your kitchen facet. Would you change the pipes? Of course not. The problem is not the pipes. The pipes just carry the water that’s pumped into them. The problem is the quality of the water coming from the water processing plant. You can do all the work you want on the pipes, but it’s not going to change the quality of your water.
Communication is the pipe that your feelings pass through.
If you’re feeling positive, then your communication will be effective. If you’re feeling negative, your communication will be strained.
Improving communication is not a goal to pursue; it’s something that ensues when you improve your feelings. And how do you improve your feelings? It’s by CONNECTING.
Men who succeed with the Marriage Fitness program tell me all the time, “We’re communicating so well now.” But I never taught them communication techniques. Because when you’re connected, you don’t need communication techniques. And if you’re not connected, you can know all the differences between Mars and Venus, practice the latest communication strategies, and repeat back to your wife what you think she said, but she’ll still feel misunderstood and frustrated with your communication.
Bad communication doesn’t lead to a bad marriage. It’s the other way around.
A bad marriage leads to bad communication.
And so, the way to improve communication in your marriage is to work on your marriage. In other words, work on connecting. If you can connect, you’ll be able to communicate with the wink of an eye.
It’s funny that so many couples spend so much time working on communication. Successful couples don’t communicate so much. There’s no need for it. They’re on the same page. They know what’s going on in each other’s mind and heart. They’re connected. They can read each other. That’s awesome communication.
But unsuccessful couples talk and talk and talk and talk and…It goes on and on and gets worse and worse. They think that if they keep trying they’ll eventually talk it through. But the more they talk the more they’re passing back and forth the negative energy their feeling.
Stop talking! Start loving. That’s when communication flows easily.
The worse you feel about your marriage the more compelled you feel to talk about it with your spouse. But that’s when it’s ill advised to do so. Instead, speak in the vocabulary of your actions. Do something loving. You’ll feel better. And that will improve your communication.
When you’re in discussion with your spouse, keep your pulse on how the discussion is going. If it’s going well, you’re probably feelings good about each other and you should continue the discussion. But if the communication feels strained, try to end the discussion until a later time when you’re feeling better about each other.
With all the misinformation out there about communication, this is a tough message to heed. But if you can keep it in mind and, most importantly, modify your behavior based on these guidelines (stop talking when the energy is negative and work on building your connection), your marriage will greatly improve. And, by the way, so will your communication.