Valentine’s Day is a day to tell your significant other how much you love him or her. However, showing him or her daily how much you love the person is more important and makes for a long marriage. Good communication that involves active listening is what makes a happy marriage.
Active listening involves (1) paying attention to whay your partner is saying rather than thinking about your response, espeically when you disagree with what you are hearing, (2) paying attention with your body—leaning towards your partner, looking at them intently, and nodding your head, and (3) confirming that you are hearing correctly by summarizing what you have heard. Firnally, the kind of listenning that most enhances intimacy is listening for the underlying feelings and letting your partner know you hear that he/she is “hurt…upset…anxious…worried… angry…etc.
It is also helpful to ask questions instead of assuming you know what the other person is thinking or feeling. You have to acknowledge the other person’s feelings and show that you understand them before moving forward in a conflict. For example, suppose your spouse is upset that dirty dishes are in the sink.
Person No. 1: Why didn’t you do the dishes?
Spouse: You didn’t tell me to do the dishes. How am I supposed to know you want me to do them?
From there the conflict will escalate into a full-blown argument. With active listening, the scenario could be like this.
Person No. 1: I see there are dishes in the sink.
Spouse: I understand that you see the extra dishes in the sink as more work for you and a burden. I am sorry I didn’t do them. I was trying to fix this problem I was having with the finances.
Person No. 1: Oh I see. Thank you for acknowledging my burdens. Would you please do the dishes when you have more time?
Spouse: I can get to the dishes in about 15 minutes. Would that work for you?
This way everyone saves face, and the issue of being unappreciated and overworked is resolved without huge arguments.
Are You a Skunk or a Turtle?
In My Marriage Manual, different types of personalities are discussed including those of skunks and turtles. Skunks spew nasty comments that hurt the other person and keep spewing until their dominance is known. Turtles are people who shrink from conflict, never mentioning their feelings or their opinions. When a conflict begins, they go off in their world. However, as the conflict escalates they are forced from their shell, and the result is not good for either party.
The book discusses other dysfunctional personalities that hinder good communication and happy marriages. When you read through the book, you get suggestions on how to make your marriage successful and happy.
Communication With Caregivers
Communication between spouses is one area where marriages need help, but there are other communication issues. For example, when one spouse is sick with something chronic, communication can be difficult on both parties. This type of communication takes care to help both the patient and the caregiver be calm and healing. A discussion on this type of communication will take place at the St. Petersburg, Fla., library on 9th Avenue on Feb. 13 at 4 p.m. Come discover how to handle caregiving and communicating to your spouse.
If you follow this advice, then, you will have a happy Valentine’s Day.