Married life isn’t what you thought it would be.
You talk about work. You talk about the kids. You talk about rush-hour traffic.
But you don’t know how to communicate effectively with your spouse about things that make you a couple.
You live in the same home, sleep in the same bed, and share the same anniversary.
And, yet, the communication in your marriage has lost its luster and your intimacy is paying the price.
When did your fervor for mutual self-disclosure and secret-sharing go the way of “superficial” and “just the facts”?
If you recognize your marriage in the above description, you are far from being alone.
Every couple can remember the early days of courtship and honeymooning — the time when there was only one person in the world whose thoughts mattered.
The very thing that draws partners to one another and forges their “I have to spend the rest of my life with you” bond is the very thing that is most easily lost.
You would think couples put everything worthwhile on the table before marriage.
Apparently, it becomes the “price of admission” into the dream of connubial bliss.
Over time, however, that commitment gets taken for granted.
The stories that made your partner so fascinating at one time are now eye-rolling in their annoyance when repeated.
And when kids and your job make you feel like you need to add extra pages to your day planner, it’s only natural to trim away what isn’t essential.
Without warning, you are left wondering how to get your spouse to communicate with you.
Unfortunately, the perception of “what is essential” gets muddled in the monotony of day-to-day responsibilities.
It also gets buried under the weight of unfinished emotional “stuff” carried into the marriage.
And before you know it, intimacy — true, emotional intimacy that surpasses sexual intimacy — takes its foot off the gas and coasts to a halt.
In an interview about how wives can get their husbands to open up, Pastor Kevin Thompson shares an important perspective about men.
He says that one of the most consistent complaints he gets from women is that men won’t talk.
The surprising reality, as he states, is that men actually want to talk more than they do. They genuinely want the intimacy connection.
Whether you are the husband or wife, here are 8 ways to sharpen your communicate skills in marriage and improve your intimacy.
1. Be honest about your desires
Do you really want your spouse to talk more…or listen more?
Good and effective communication is healthy reciprocity of both.
But if you’re feeling locked out of your marriage’s potential because of poor communication, it’s important to be honest about your needs.
Women who complain that their husbands won’t talk often really want their husbands to listen.
Not just in-one-ear-and-out-the-other listen, but hearing-with-the-heart listen.
2. Create safety
Anything can be shared when the environment for sharing is safe.
That’s why working with a therapist can create such breakthroughs when you don’t know how to get your spouse to communicate.
The absence of communication is often a sign of fear.
It is therefore imperative that you never, ever use your spouse’s words against them. You took vows to love, protect and cherish.
When and how did you think you would have to live those vows if not when you are communicating?
Be your spouse’s safe place to land. Take good care of your spouse’s heart and see what comes forth when you do.
3. Embrace your differences
We can joke all day about how different men and women are. But if we don’t learn from the differences and apply the lessons, we’re just wasting valuable information.
When it comes to communication, men and women not only have different styles but different needs.
Women crave empathy, men crave respect. And their communication styles reflect those differences.
Wives, it may be second nature for you to maintain eye contact during conversations.
You may also weave your conversations, sometimes overlapping or interjecting in a cooperative way.
Men, you may be more comfortable talking while doing something — walking, fishing, gardening.
Sitting face-to-face may create tension for you, which is why sitting side-by-side and taking turns in conversation may be more comfortable.
The important thing is that you each seek to understand the other. Learn your spouse’s love language…and speak it.