David Daroff MA and Dr. Hawkins from the Marriage Recovery Center, discuss how you can improve your communication with your spouse, by making simple changes in the way you communicate feelings and concerns.
How to Improve your Communication with Your Spouse
Communication is the cornerstone of any healthy relationship, and when it comes to marriage, effective communication can make or break the bond between spouses. In this article, we’ll explore the importance of changing your language to enhance communication with your spouse. We’ll delve into the power of using positive language, the significance of avoiding blame and shame, and how to make requests in a way that fosters understanding and connection.
Dr. David Hawkins, the director of the Marriage Recovery Center, and David Daroff, a therapist at the same center, have some valuable insights to share about the role of language in marital communication. They emphasize that if you want to bring about positive change in your marriage, one of the first steps is to change the way you think and speak about issues. Let’s break down their advice on improving communication with your spouse.
Change Your Language, Change Your Marriage
A fundamental idea presented by Dr. Hawkins and David Daroff is that changing your language can lead to a transformation in how you approach issues in your marriage. Language shapes our thoughts and, in turn, our actions. To illustrate this point, they draw upon an example from the mental health community. The way we talk about sensitive topics like suicide has evolved to be more compassionate and less stigmatizing. Instead of saying, “he committed suicide,” we now say, “he died by suicide.” This shift in language reflects a more empathetic understanding of the pain involved.
Moving Away from Blame and Shame
One common issue in many marriages is the use of blame and shame during conflicts. Dr. Hawkins and David Daroff suggest that adopting a more positive language can help de-escalate conflicts and foster a healthier atmosphere for communication. Blame and shame often lead to defensive reactions and can set off destructive arguments.
From Accusation to Empathy
Imagine a scenario where one partner accuses the other of prioritizing work over the relationship. In the traditional blame-shame language, this might sound like, “You always put your work before me.” Instead, you can rephrase it with a more empathetic and understanding tone, such as, “It seems like you treasure your work, and I sometimes feel like I’m getting less time together.” By expressing your feelings and concerns without blaming, you open the door to a more constructive conversation.
Softening Your Approach
To take it a step further, you can soften your approach even more. For instance, saying, “Honey, I know you care about your work, but I’ve been feeling a little lonely lately. I’d appreciate it if we could spend more time together,” creates a much more positive atmosphere. It conveys your needs without making your partner defensive or resistant.
The Power of Positive Language
As Dr. Hawkins shared from his personal experience, asking for something in a positive way can be highly effective in getting what you want in your marriage. By using language that frames your requests in a positive light, you’re more likely to receive a positive response from your spouse.
For instance, if you desire more quality time together, instead of saying, “You never give me time,” you can say, “I would really love it if you took me out this weekend.” This approach makes your request feel like an invitation rather than a demand, increasing the likelihood of a positive outcome.
Listening and Understanding
Effective communication is a two-way street. It’s not just about how you express yourself but also about how you listen to your spouse. It’s crucial to actively listen and empathize with their feelings and needs. When your partner opens up and shares their thoughts or concerns, be receptive and avoid defensiveness.
Improving communication with your spouse is an ongoing process that requires effort from both sides. Changing your language from negative, blame-driven statements to positive, empathetic expressions can have a profound impact on your marriage. Remember that it’s not about suppressing your feelings or needs but about articulating them in a way that promotes understanding and cooperation. By implementing the advice given by Dr. Hawkins and David Daroff, you can foster a healthier, more loving relationship with your spouse.
Also read: How to Save Your Marriage in 5 Steps
About Dr. Hawkins:
The internet is inundated with hyperbole and misinformation about narcissism, leaving many people confused and hopeless. Get the facts on narcissism and emotional abuse from someone who has been researching, writing about and treating narcissism and emotional abuse for over a decade.
Dr. Hawkins is a best-selling author and clinical psychologist with over three decades of experience helping people break unhealthy patterns and build healthier relationships.
He is the founder and director of the Marriage Recovery Center and the Emotional Abuse Institute which offers education, training and counseling for people who want to break free of, and heal from, emotional abuse. Whether the perpetrator of the abuse is your spouse, partner, parent, boss, friend or family member, we offer practical advice for anyone trapped in a toxic, destructive relationship.
In addition to narcissism & emotional abuse, you’ll learn about the lesser known forms of abuse, including covert abuse, reactive abuse, spiritual abuse, secondary abuse, relationship trauma and much more.