Too often, our conversations would derail and we’d end up walking away. An hour or so later he’d ask if I was okay, and I’d say, “I’m fine.”
I was “fine” – freaked out, insecure, neurotic, and emotional. I was also defeated. How can two successful, articulate professionals be so ineffectual in our communication? We had no trouble making our wants and intentions clear at work, but at home we were a mess. I felt like I was eating soup with a fork.
When my husband proposed going to counselling, I felt hope for the first time in ages. If he, Mr. I Can Do This Myself was willing to try, why wouldn’t I?
We learned to use language like “I feel” vs. “You always…” or “You never…” I learned that meeting him at the door with “We need to talk,” was a shortcut to a fight, and he learned that when I say “I wish you weren’t going out with the guys,” what I mean is “I miss you.”
We’ve both learned to be intentional and to avoid passive-aggressive behaviour in our conversations. There’s no more, “I thought you knew,” or “I was only joking!”
Learning to communicate has strengthened our relationship, it’s made us better parents, and it’s transformed our marriage. If you’re struggling in your marriage, don’t walk but run to your nearest counsellor.
Effective communication skills are the keys to a successful marriage. Relationships are emotional and couples are dependent on interpersonal verbal and nonverbal communication to connect and interact with one another.
Relationships are constantly evolving and require both partners to engage in healthy dialogue to stay on course. If your relationship is suffering because of anger issues, poor communication, or an unwillingness to compromise, there are ways to work through the conflict.
Many people think marriage is all about marrying the right person, but it’s also about doing the right things with the person you married. If you’ve experienced a setback and things seem to have gone off the rails, there are ways to correct your course and get back on track. The key is to avoid slipping into a negative mindset. Don’t allow yourself to focus on your partner’s negative qualities or habits. Instead, focus on the reasons you fell in love in the first place.
It’s also important to treat your partner with the kindness and respect you expect from them. You reap what you sow, and sowing kindness and respect strengthens the bond between you. Practice self-care. A healthy relationship is made up of healthy individuals. If you’re not taking care of yourself, you are putting unnecessary strain on the relationship. A healthy “you” makes for a healthy “us.”
It’s also important to take a good look at where things went wrong. There may be no specific incident, but rather a gradual decline in your emotional and physical intimacy. Decide where you want to be and come up with a plan of how you can get there together.
Like Nike says, “Just do it.” Your sex life can be the first thing to suffer in a struggling relationship, but it can also be a shortcut to reconnecting and rekindling emotional intimacy. It won’t solve all your problems, but it can help you and your partner reignite lost feelings and connections.
Couples who are committed to working things out have the strongest relationships.
Marriage problems need to be fixed, not ignored. If you and your partner are committed to working through the issues driving you apart, there is hope for putting your relationship back together.
Consider what issues are a constant source of friction between you. If the list is endless, chances are you are facing significant challenges and you need to work on more than communication skills. A professional marriage therapist can help mediate and guide you to the source of your conflict and then provide you with the necessary tools to resolve your differences.
Think about not just what you fight about but how you fight. Learn to communicate without snarky comments, criticism, sarcasm, blame, and yelling. All of these behaviours are counter-productive and escalate conflict. If you feel yourself losing control, tap out and come back to the conversation when you can re-engage positively.
Learn to express concerns positively. Instead of attacking language like “You always…” or “I hate when you…” instead use phrases like, “ I get concerned when…” or “I feel…” followed by your emotion e.g. sad, unappreciated, overwhelmed.
Learn to make decisions cooperatively – look for a win/win instead of win/lose. Mutually satisfying solutions are possible if you’re both willing to compromise.
Finally, say no to the three A’s that ruin relationships – Affairs, Addiction, and Anger. If you or your partner aren’t willing to break the destructive cycle of any one of those, you may not be able to salvage your marriage.
It may be obvious to say, but marriage is a long-term commitment. Like anything long-term, keeping your relationship vibrant and fulfilling takes work. If you’re looking to reignite the spark in your relationship, there are many simple things you can do to fan the flames.
Do something old or do something new. Was Friday night date night? Make it a priority again. Have you always wanted to learn to dance but never have? Sign up for a ballroom dancing class together. The familiar warms your relationship with nostalgia, the new draws you together through a fun experience.
Flirt with your partner. Give them a wink or a smile, or send subtle, or not-so-subtle, text messages to each other. Your sex life is often the first place you see cracks in a relationship, but being intentional about the intimate side of your relationship goes a long way toward filling in those gaps.
Disconnect from the world and spend time together. Put down your devices, snuggle up on the couch and watch a favourite movie, or make dinner together and spend a romantic evening in front of the fire.
Finally, engage in self-care. You cannot be fully present with your partner if you’re not taking time for yourself. It’s not selfish, it’s mutually beneficial.