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How can I communicate better with my spouse?

Hal Runkel
Hal Runkel on behalf of ScreamFree
Marriage & Family Therapy
To communicate better with your spouse, show the real you to your spouse. There is always a place for kindness, especially in disagreements. But some people were taught to cement their true thoughts, opinions, and positions underneath a veneer of niceties, pleasantries, and manners, thus hiding their truest selves, even from those closest to them. 

Instead, show the real you to your spouse. Risk rocking the boat by revealing more of what you actually think, believe, and want. By all means, do this calmly, but do it nonetheless:

“No, I don’t really like that show anymore.”  

“You know, I would like to spend more time with you without the kids.”

“I would like to know more about our finances.”

“No, I don’t really like that outfit on you, but I love the one you wore last weekend.”

 Let go of nice. Take hold of you. 
Listening is a great way to build respectful relationships. In listen first communication you are trying to convey a spirit honoring individual perspectives, a genuine interest in people and a desire to form partnerships. In opposition of the spirit is a sense of trying to convince someone to do something. 

Listen first or motivational interviewing utilizes the following skills: 

•Ask open questions.  Invites people to talk and share their perspective. 
•Reflect what we hear from people.  Communicates understanding. 
•Summarize what we hear.  Pull together the major points of a conversation. 
•Use Affirmations.  We want to affirm what we see as positive with people.  Communicates encouragement and support.  

These simple listen first skills support people feeling supported, understood and respected.  

Be constructive, not whiny or defensive. Share what's on your mind by using specifics, not generalizations. Avoid words like "always" and "never." Approach discussions with a sense of compromise.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.