Effective and better communication is KEY to a successful marriage. Especially when your marriage is on the verge of falling apart.
And that’s the reason I believe it’s worthwhile to understand how to communicate better with your spouse?
It’s human nature to speak to your partner - and everyone else for that matter - in a way that comes naturally for you.
The fact is, however, that in order to have them fully understand and appreciate what you’re trying to communicate, you need to treat and speak to your partner in a way that they understand.
In other words, you need to build trust first.
Many couples think, plan, decide and interact differently. But to make your marriage or relationship work and relate well to another person,
it’s helpful to understand how they think and interact with the world.
Once we understand how to communicate effectively with them, we can better understand what kind of communication style works best for them, and then try relating to them that way.
As an example, a friend of mine worked with a man who had a huge need to have his work recognized.
He always wanted to tell her (ever-so-proudly) all the details of what he had done and how great the results were.
She was not interested in the detail, just the end product, and she reacted badly to his obvious need for approval.
She didn’t feel that she should have to constantly stroke his ego, and she could see that her lack of doing so was frustrating for him.
Once she learned about personality types she realized that he needs and thrives on recognition, while she is a “no nonsense,
let’s get on with it” person who wasn’t interested in “pandering” to what she considered his neediness.
Once she changed her way of dealing with her spouse he was much less frustrated and their relationship improved considerably.
The best way to explain this concept is to briefly look at personality types.
There are many theories and many, many personality tests out there, so for our purposes, I have chosen the simple but sensible DISC Personality Styles.
This theory evolved from the work of Carl Jung, and was developed by William Marston in 1928.
In 1940 Walter Clark developed the DISC Personality Profile, which is still used today.
I am providing only a very brief overview here, so if you are interested in learning more detail have a look below as this will help you understand how to communicate better with your spouse.
#D = Dominant (Task-Oriented) – People with this personality type are independent leaders who like to be in control.
They focus on the big picture and thrive on new challenges. When dealing with a “D” you should speak confidently and concisely, avoiding detail or repetition. You should avoid generalizations and negativity.
#I = Influential (People-Oriented) – People with this personality type are gregarious, chatty, impulsive and emotional.
They love working with other people and having lots of social interaction.
When dealing with an “I” you should be aware that they desire recognition, acceptance, approval, flattery, praise, and popularity.
They shy away from negativity and conflict, preferring a positive and fun environment and more importantly they accept any situation in a very friendly way.
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#S = Steady (People-Oriented) – People with this personality type are patient, stable, reliable and predictable.
They like security and routine, and do not enjoy change. They avoid conflict and like a positive environment.
When dealing with an “S” you should take time to build rapport and trust.
They are sensitive to criticism, so it’s important to be kind and patient and avoid aggressive or confrontational behavior.
#C = Conscientious (Task-Oriented) – People with this personality type are detail oriented, precise, accurate and conscientious.
They are analytical and can be very good problem solvers. They have high standards for both themselves and others.
When dealing with a “C” you must try to avoid criticism, as they take great pride in being correct.
They thrive on having detailed facts and figures rather than generalizations. They will do everything possible to avoid conflict.
I find the whole area of differing personality types very interesting, and tremendously helpful in understanding people.
I could write a whole book on dealing with different personality types, but all you really need to appreciate here is that different people react differently to the world, and understanding that will help you temper your behavior and communication patterns fit to your spouse’s needs.
If you can learn to interact with her in a way that is meaningful for him/her than you can really strengthen your marriage.
And at the same time improved communication between you is guaranteed!
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Even the very short summary of personality types that I have provided above should be enough for you to recognize both your own style and your partner’s style.
Try this four-part process and apply it in your married life if you truly desire to learn how to communicate better with your spouse.
#1. Assess and understand your natural communication style. Think about how you typically communicate and how you prefer others to communicate with you.
Spend some time thinking about interactions at home, at work, with your friends and family.
Think about how each individual speaks to you and how it feels for you. Do you like people to “be straight” with you and tell it like it is?
Or do you prefer some gentle and non-confrontational positive reinforcement? Whatever you come up with will also be the style in which you are most likely to communicate with your partner.
#2. Identify the behavioral style of your partner. Is your partner (normally) dependable, supportive, amiable, content, and reserved?
Then he is likely to be an “S” who is sensitive to criticism and will react much better to patient and
who loves to interact, socialize and have fun? If so, he is an “I”, and pretty concerned about what other people think of him, and will respond best to admiration and recognition.
#3. Consider the similarities and differences. Once you’ve assessed your own and your partner’s style, it should be very obvious if you are communicating with him/her in the best possible way.
If you aren’t the same type of personality (which you most likely are not), then you can probably change your way of behaving with, and speaking to, her to smooth out your relationship.
#4. Adjust your communication style accordingly. Learn how to modify your approach to “fit” the personality of your spouse.
For example, your “S” spouse will respond better if you are positive, laid back and supportive with your comments.
Describe your goals clearly, concisely and thoroughly, stressing that your spouse’s help / cooperation / assistance is important.
Let’s look at an example. Say your husband is late coming home from work and hasn’t called to warn you. He arrives home 50 minutes later than usual.
Dinner has been ready for 20 minutes and the children are hungry and cranky.
You, a “C” personality who likes clear routines and needs to have everything on a predictable schedule, have a problem with this kind of change being thrown at you.
Now you’ve lost control of the routine and the situation. Dinner is overcooked and you are open to criticism, which you fear.
However, you dislike confrontation even more than you dislike losing control of the situation, so you say nothing.
You bite back your frustration but you are resentful and a little fearful of criticism, so you are noticeably quieter than usual.
The worst thing your husband could do in this situation is to criticize or berate you for dinner being overcooked.
Given your personality type, the best thing he could have done was to give you as much warning as possible (such as a phone call hours ago) that your routine was going to be altered by his pending late arrival.
If that wasn’t possible, he should at least acknowledge the situation and be grateful for (not critical of) the overcooked dinner and for your understanding.
Now let’s look at your reaction. What have you communicated to your husband about his failure to phone to tell you he’d be late and your resulting discomfort and frustration in having “failed” to get a perfectly cooked dinner on the table at the right time? Nothing.
If he even noticed that you were more quiet than usual, he would likely assume that you were pouting because he was late.
What should you have done? That will depend on his personality type.
For example, if he is a “D”, he likes his independence and would not understand your need to follow a routine.
Therefore you need to tell him your needs in a direct and factual way, such as “If possible, please phone me if you know you’ll be home late.
It’s important to me to have a nice dinner on the table at 6 pm. If I know in advance that you will be late I can compensate by cooking the dinner later and giving the kids a small snack.”
Once you understand your partner’s personality and ways of communicating effectively with your partner, you will have a better understanding of why they are acting / reacting the way they are.
As a result, you will be less likely to be confused or to become frustrated or angry and can respond to them in a way that they understand.
To be honest I can go on and on but that’s not the whole point of this article. I wanted to give you a brief overview of how to communicate better with your spouse.
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