Let’s get right into it. If your marriage is suffering from silence, then we need to focus on reopening the channels of communication. When we do this, we need to make sure that we set ourselves up for success and the best way to do so is to ensure that you’re going to be listening to understand. I know that when things are tense or when there has been a lack of communication for quite some time, it’s easy to have a tough time talking about things. It’s also human nature to want to express your point and be heard and understood. But it’s not so easy to listen to understand when emotions are flying all over the place!
That is why my first piece of advice for you is to practice active listening. Make sure that you approach any conversation with your husband or wife with the intention of hearing them out and understanding what they are trying to say to you. All too often I see people get into arguments because they aren’t listening; they’re just looking for something in the conversation to use as a springboard so that they can switch the focus to what they want to say.
A useful tool that we use in our coaching sessions is called “reflective listening.” The goal of this tool is to ensure that you have fully understood what your significant other is saying to you, and to show them that you have understood it. One of our basic needs as human beings is to be understood, and this is an essential part of a healthy relationship! To listen reflectively, all you have to do repeat what your spouse just said to you. “Ok so what you’re saying is that you would like for us to spend more time together, right? I totally understand that.”
And then you can both work as a team to figure out the best solutions. It’s very tempting to become defensive and point out everything that you feel is your partner’s fault, but this is not going to help the situation right now. If you want to get rid of silence in marriage, you will need to start to cultivate an environment in which both of you feel heard, and safe to express yourselves. This isn’t about playing the blame game. It’s about listening to each other, recognizing your needs, and working as a team to find mutually beneficial solutions.
So, listen to understand. Don’t listen to find something to springboard off of. Again, it is not at all about winning an argument; it is about understanding. If your partner is communicating with you, it means that there is a need there.
Avoid the blame game if there is silence in your marriage!
This one goes hand in hand with what I just talked about. Don’t play the blame game and attack your partner, blaming them for everything that is going wrong right now. Even if they did something that had a direct effect on the way things are right now, the goal is to look at the future and shape it in a way that makes both of you fulfilled. If you fixate on everything he or she did wrong, you are going to be met with defensiveness. I am not saying that you should not be given an apology is you are owed one, but it is crucial that you do not hold grudges or point fingers.
If you enter into a conversation in attack mode, your spouse is going to react with defensiveness. They are going to respond to your comments just to be right; not to try to find solutions. As you can see, this isn’t going to get you anywhere.
When you begin to break the silence in your marriage, you have to approach it in a very productive way that will encourage your partner to work with you; not shut you out. This is how you pull in the same direction.
Communication in marriage requires empathy
If you want to establish communication and openness in your marriage, you both need to practice empathy. A relationship cannot thrive if you two aren’t able to put yourselves in each others’ shoes. I encourage you to challenge yourself to dive into your partner’s emotions and feel those emotions with them. It’s important to validate their feelings.
Another helpful tip to encourage your partner to talk to you and open up to you has to do with talking to them in terms of their own interests. It’s important to understand what makes your partner tick, and this is where empathy comes into play. Don’t fixate on yourself and your needs. Instead, make sure that you’re paying ample attention to both your needs and those of your partner. If you are able to talk to him or her in terms of their own interests, they will be much more likely to open up and talk to you. Try to connect with your partner so that you can marry your wants and needs with theirs. This is truly a recipe for success that will take you far.
I have worked with thousands upon thousands of couples, and I can tell you without a doubt that this is one of the most powerful tools for success!
Let your partner talk
When you bring up the issues that you need to talk about, you have to let your partner express themselves. I know that for some of you, the problem is that you aren’t talking about anything, and in that case, you have to challenge yourself to bring things up. You can do this in a lighthearted and productive way! It doesn’t have to be the famous “We need to talk” line because, let’s face it, that’s just scary.
You can bring things up by saying, “Hey, I’ve been thinking about something and I wanted to explore it with you.” When you dive into the convo, make sure you hear your partner out and encourage them to share. Ask him or her questions! This is one of the things we forget to do the most often, despite how important it is! The more someone talks about themselves, the more heard and understood they feel! One of the secrets of Napoleon Hill’s book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” is that people have a deep desire to talk about themselves. Sometimes you have to coax it out of them, but they yearn to talk about their interests, their feelings, their desires… and when you give them the opportunity to talk about themselves, they’ll consider you a friend. I should mention that you do, of course, have to be genuinely interested in what your partner is saying to you.
There is no better way to connect with someone than to let them talk about their interests, and you can bring this aspect into your marriage by encouraging your partner to tell you about their passions, hobbies, thoughts and feelings.
Respect when there is silence in my marriage
This one is a no-brainer. If you want to stop the silence in your marriage and open communication, you have to speak to each other with respect. If you find that this is challenging for you and you’ve been having a hard time talking to each other in a productive way, I highly recommend reading this mega article we’ve created on communication.
It’s important to speak to each other with respect, respect the things that each of you cares about, and work together towards common goals that you both care about. A common life project cannot happen unless both of you feel respected. A very common issue that I find in my one on one coaching sessions is that one or both people involved simply do not feel respected. So I encourage you to pay close attention to the element of respect in your marriage because it plays a big role in communication. Very often, there is silence in marriage because one person doesn’t feel respected enough to be heard and understood.
Accountability is crucial. Both of you need to be able to acknowledge your faults and take accountability for your wrongs. Humility is such an important element of a healthy relationship, and healthy communication.