Communication tips from married couples?


#1

Hi everyone! :wave:
So, I’ve noticed that a consistent problem that keeps coming up on this forum (and in my own relationship) is communication. More specifically, how can a couple communicate effectively?

My boyfriend and I have been having minor disagreements recently, and we both want to learn how to sort them out effectively before we get married. I guess we have a difference of communication styles - when I get upset, I want to talk about it right away and get the whole issue dealt with. My boyfriend, in contrast, takes a few hours to several days to sort out his feelings and put them into words so we can talk about it. His way seems logical to me, and I’m glad he knows how to control his emotions, but it drives me nuts to know that he’s upset but have to wait to know why. I’d like to be able to comfort him, reassure him, talk him through it, or apologize, as the case warrants, but sometimes I just don’t have a clue what’s wrong until he tells me.

Sometimes he’s upset at me, sometimes he’s angry, sometimes he’s depressed, and sometimes he’s worried about something, but often I don’t have any clue what the problem is until he calms down and puts it into words. English is his second language, so I appreciate that he needs to think it through and make sure he’s not saying it wrong, but I end up spending all day or several days worrying about what it could be that upset him.

Anyway, to make a long story short, what communication tips do you more experienced people have for the rest of us? How did you learn to communicate? How long did it take you to figure it all out? Are you still struggling with communication differences, or do you just relax and go with the flow now? Tips?


#2

I think the first step is a good degree of self awareness, which you seem to be gaining. You recognize your own style, his style, and that neither style is “right” just “different”.

There are some good books I can recommend, the first of which is called Please Understand Me by Keirsey and Bates. I think you should both try to discern your Personality Type (Meyers-Briggs) because it sounds like you have some opposite styles.

Regarding marital relationships, Greg Popcak’s book For Better… Forever is very good.

Communication is definitely a skill that can be learned.


#3

**Thank you for starting this thread. I had a similar question but couldn’t put it into words, at least without going into more personal detail than I felt comfortable with.

I look forward to the responses you get!

Also, I hope you don’t mind me asking a question of my own:o

Personality types were mentioned above… I have briefly looked into myers briggs but it costs money. How would a couple go about getting themselves “tested”? I would assume it would be some sort of mental health specialty? I can’t imagine just learning our “types” would be enough…we’d need a professional to help us understand eachother… right?

**Malia


#4

Well, I am definitely no expert in marriage here, being only married a year and a half, but good communication is core to a good marriage and so DH and I have worked on that since the beginning of our dating relationship. I don’t know that these would work for every one, but this is what we’ve done.

I would say, first, that good communication starts out with making sure you communicate on a daily basis your love for each other. DH and I make sure we say “I love you” in each other’s love languages each day (Read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman). If we feel like we’re not getting that love, then we let the other person know, in a nice and tender way of course. For me, I need quality time with my DH and help with the baby. So, if he’s not seeking me out, then I ask him to play with the baby for a few minutes or get out a board game for us. And his is physical touch, so I kiss him the moment he walks in the door from work and make sure I hug him or hold his hand and things like that throughout the day. We ALWAYS kiss goodnight and say “I love you” before we fall asleep, even if we’re not terribly happy with each other. We also make sure to point out the positives about each other daily. It keeps us focused on the good qualities.

Secondly, about once a month we sit down or while we’re travelling more than 30 minutes some place, we’ll have the “how to be a better spouse” talk. We ask each other calmly what we can do to be a better spouse. I tend to get really uppity when it comes to criticism, so I’ve learned the best way is to know ahead of time that it’s coming and it’s coming out of love, and then I can prevent myself from getting defensive.

Thirdly, I try to remember that I should not be in control all the time. I have issues with that and still am working on that a lot, but I remind myself that my DH is the head of the household, and so he should be making the decisions (of course, we talk it through if it’s major). Also, if something is bothering me about DH, I ask myself if this is a big issue or something that really doesn’t matter, and then I either drop it and give it God or I bring it up when we’re both focused on the conversation at hand. I have learned NOT to ever bring up something serious while DH is focused on something else, like video games or playing with the baby. He won’t listen. So, instead of getting upset, I ask him to pause his game and he turns around, looks me in the eye, and I know he’s listening and ready to talk. Even if it’s about dinner or the next day’s schedule.

Lastly, but most importantly PRAYER together! If your spouse is Catholic or willing to pray with you, it’s ESSENTIAL for a good marriage, I think. I know when we don’t pray together, we start having more problems and more disagreements and less time spent together.

I’d also second Gregory Popcak’s For Better…Forever! book. It’s VERY good and Catholic :D.

DH and I do not have a perfect marriage, or anywhere close to it, but even writing this reminds me what I need to do to keep it growing :).


#5

I think one way of helping your spouse communicate better is by taking a VERY close look at how you, yourself, react to what he tells you.

Pay attention, 'cause this is the voice of experience speaking here…:blush:

He says, “I made a doctor’s appointment today…”

I say, :bigyikes: “Why? What’s wrong? Are you sick? Is it your stomach? How many beers did you have last night?..”
(actually, it was for a physical for his job)

He says, “What kind of shampoo do you use?”

I say :mad: **“I DON’T use the cheap stuff because it dries out my hair and so what if the salon brand costs $10 a bottle? I’ll bet you spent that much on donuts for the guys at work this month!” **(actually, he just liked the smell)

He’s driving silently. I say :confused: “What’s wrong?” He says, “Nothing.” I say, :frowning: **“Yes, there is. Something’s wrong. You wouldn’t be sitting there all quiet if you weren’t upset about something. What is it? Did I do something? What did I do?” **(actually he was wondering if it would be faster to take the bypass or the interstate)

Would you all believe it took me almost 15 years to figure out the problem?:o And maybe my case is extreme, but once we started working on our communication problems (he admitted he was once in a relationship where he learned that it was best just to keep his mouth shut than try to explain anything and it had become a habit), I started noticing how many other people were doing the same thing. I never noticed it before (someone actually had to point out to me that I sounded like a panic button more than a loving, supportive spouse!) and I suppose it can seem like you’re actually trying to HELP, which is what causes so much frustration.

Anyway, that’s my perspective, for what it’s worth. I just thank God that my husband’s patience was greater than mine all those years!


#6

Ok, this is going to sound totally lame but… on our Engaged Encounter the older couple on the team told us to hold hands. They said you couldn’t say mean, hurtful things holding hands with the person you loved. At the time both of us rolled our eyes and thought, “How Stupid!!” But the first time we had a real argument my husband took my hands, I immediatley snatched mine away because I wanted to throw a fit!:o He took them again and we actually ended up talking and listening to each other.

It may be my personality, but looking back I wanted to control the situation and holding hands make me realize I couldn’t just “spout off”. We have only had to do that two times in seven years, but it worked for us.


#7

I’ve only been married 2.5 years but we never fight and I think the reason is this: we basically ignore anything that’s not critical.

Really. Don’t sweat the small stuff, the medium stuff, or even the large stuff.

If you love each other, and treat each other well, and aren’t cheating, nothing else really matters.

Annoying habits, hobby’s you don’t share, she shops too much, I like to go out drinking and golfing with my friends. Who cares.

Also telling each other how much you love each other every day.

Hope everything goes well for you.

God Bless


#8

**
Yes:o We seem to be doing the same sort of things you mention. It’s been 8 years. I hope we don’t have to go through another 7 before we figure it out:eek:

malia**


#9

I am rolling I am laughing so hard - I think we may have been the same person married to the same man!!!

Guess we are fast learners, because it only took us about 13 years to realize I was a panic button.

I still have a tendancy to do the driving in the car are you upset I know you are upset what is wrong thing :o


#10

My employer did such a test a few years ago. I was dubbed amiable/expressive. I am not sure the purpose of the test really, because everyone treated everyone the same way. LOL

But, you could go on their website (Myers Briggs) and see if they have something for individual consumers. There are four categories…analytical (my husband to a tee), driver (somewhat hubby), amiable, and expressive. I tested my son with the copy of the test that was given to us to take home, and he was analytical, and my dd was expressive. It’s a neat assessment, but truthfully, I think we are all a little of everything. I am very much a driver in some situations, and amiable in others. Being amiable I found out doesn’t mean you let others walk on you. It means that you care about relationships. I would say that’s accurate. My son and hubby are more concerned with getting the tasks at hand done, but my husband has done really well in sales even though he is not expressive, really. So, goes to show that we can adapt to many different styles.

JW–Hello! I would encourage you both to have ‘planned times’ to talk. My husband started this with our family a long time ago, where we sit down either as a couple, if we are struggling with something, or with our kids, if there’s tension between the kids or something. We spend about 30 minutes, going around the table, and each person gets to talk for 5 minutes, and then we come up with solutions. It sounds a little structured, but you remember these things when the struggles crop up again. For example, you could talk to you bf about closing off, when he gets that way – during your ‘sessions.’ Typically, when we have done this, we tend to not repeat the same behaviors that annoy the other. (we start new ones! ha) :wink: :smiley:

You sound very loving, and so does he. Part of being in a relationship, is the ebb and flow of one another’s moods and reactions to things. A priest on a radio show said recently (it was a commercial on Morning Air) that if two people say they never argue, how do they know if they’ll be able to handle conflict? Avoiding arguments, he said, is not natural to marital growth, because it doesn’t teach the couple how to deal with adversity in the marriage. It’s key to be able to have conflict and resolve it. Now, if conflict is all a couple has, then no. But, you know what I mean, right?:slight_smile:


#11

I’d start by contacting the diocese, because I know in some diocese they use it in marriage prep and may have a certified trainer on staff and might do it for free or very little. Also, the book I mentioned has an assessment in the front and you can do it for free-- it’s not as detailed as the MBTI but the Keirsey temperament sorter is pretty good. You can also go on the Keirsey website and do a detailed assessment for about $20.

Not necessarily. Many business and HR type professionals are certified.

Truly, if you read the book it gives a lot of insight into the styles.

Remember, personality styles are merely preferences, similar to a dominant and subordinate hand (left or right). You can use your subordinate styles-- it’s just not your natural preference. One should never use their style as an excuse for bad behavior.


#12

I have always loved The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate. This is an excellent book to help you understand how to understand each other!

Hightly recommended. :thumbsup:

(Though I’ve yet to get my DH to read it:rolleyes: , it was most helpful in a previous relationship :blush: )

~Liza


#13

His Needs, Her Needs is a really good book too.


#14

#15

No problem - I’ve been meaning to start it for a while, but I wanted to start it when the most recent argument wasn’t fresh on my mind, because I wanted to make it about everybody, not just about me! :blush: Feel free to ask as many questions of your own as you like - this one is for everyone.

giggle :rolleyes: That’s what I’m saying inside, but I’m pretty good at not saying it aloud. But then my reactions start getting extreme anyway, and he’s clueless as to why I’m suddenly acting all weird! Like when he’s mad, I start figuring that he’s thinking of breaking up with me (even though it’s the farthest thing from his mind, and he’s told me so a hundred times) and then I don’t want to leave him alone in case he comes to that decision. Totally stupid and overreacting, I know. Working on that. Hope it doesn’t take fifteen years!

Aww… that’s really sweet! I’m going to try that!

I like your idea for the family meeting - it sounds really good. My family only did that one time, as an intervention when my 17-year-old sister announced she was dating a 34-year-old man! :eek: But I can see that it would be good to do it regularly, instead of just in emergencies.
And I’ve always felt that I couldn’t get married until I knew how my future husband reacted when he was angry. Not that I recommend trying to make someone angry as an experiment, but I think it is important to learn to deal with strong emotions.

I have that book on my bookshelf, although I haven’t showed it to my boyfriend yet. I like self-help books, but I worry that they make me over-analyze things! Thinking too much can be a bad thing.:rolleyes:


#16

This is a link to an unofficial Myers-Briggs-type online test. It’s free and there are personality type descriptions. I’ve used this, and from reading the description of what is supposed to be my personality type, it seems to be pretty accurate. :stuck_out_tongue:
humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/JTypes2.asp


#17

Yes I would try it out. We do it monthly. I used to really loathe the meetings but after a while, we both opened up, and became 10x better communicators. My husband would be the quiet one, as you describe with your bf, and I was more mouthy. I know that’s hard to imagine.:smiley: But, again, over the years (and after we merged back from being separated several years ago) we have learned two important things:

  1. don’t let the sun go down on your anger
  2. be quick to listen, slow to speak (that is harder than #1)

Good luck!!!:slight_smile:


#18

My wife and I have been married 34 years this coming October. I can say without reservation that we have never had an argument that is worth remembering. In fact our kids used tell us that their friends thought we were “weird” because “you guys never argue or fight like the other parents do”. The key to our loving relationship is our respect for one another, as well as our patience with each other’s faults. I truly don’t think we have ever kept secrets from one another. We are so confident and comfortable in our love for one another that we instinctively know when something is amiss, and we are usually ready to talk about the opportunity at the same times. It must be because we both feel we were created for one another at the beginning of time. And, to top it all off, it just keeps getting better and the love keeps growing! So hang in there.


#19

Check out “PAIRS” they also have a book with step by step instructions. Their communication style is unnatural at first, but learning it by heart will change your life not only personally, but also in the workplace.

www.marriagebuilders.com “His Needs, Her Needs” has a good chapter on ways to reach a policy of joint agreement, communicate openly and also recognize differing needs.

Engaged Encounter is a weekend retreat offered by your diocese. Communication is at the forefront of this getaway which includes two couples giving their personal testimony and private time to practice the concepts learned in a group setting.


#20

The test on that site works pretty well.

Then, you can go to this page to learn more about your results: personalitypage.com/info.html


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