communication problems

7 Common Communication Problems for Spouses and How to Fix Them

Good communication is critical in any marriage. Without effectively communicating with one another, spouses can usually end up in deep trouble fast. In some cases, it can even lead to a failed marriage, particularly if the communication problems allow issues to escalate.

Luckily, it isn’t hard to improve your communication skills as a couple. Here’s a look at seven common communication problems spouses face and tips on how to fix them.

1. Avoiding Hard Topics

Not talking about an issue is almost guaranteed to cause trouble. If a spouse is upset, feels wronged, or wants to see something change, not bringing it up allows resentment to build. Over time, it may even lead to anger and hostility, neither of which is good for a marriage.

This is one of the communication problems with a simple solution: talking. By discussing an issue as soon as it arises, it keeps it from festering into something bigger.

communication problems

2. Placing Blame

Many arguments involve one spouse viewing the other as being responsible for an issue. It causes one to try to blame the other for the problem, leading one spouse to spend a lot of time making “you” statements. The trouble is that this approach usually makes one spouse defensive. Plus, it can be a hurtful way to communicate and rarely solves the problem.

Instead of blaming each other, you need to work together toward a solution. Don’t get stuck on “you did this” or “you did that.” Do define the problem, but avoid doling out responsibility. Then, try to be a team and find a resolution.

3. Yelling

When it comes to communication problems, yelling is a doozy. Usually, a person starts to shout as a way to release anger and frustration. The issue is, that form of release typically causes more trouble than its worth. It can leave one spouse feeling attacked. Plus, any message you try to share when telling isn’t often heard by the listener.

While expressing emotion is fine, you should avoid yelling at all costs. If you feel anger building and are worried about how you’ll express it, then it’s usually better to take a short break. That way, you can collect yourself and restore a sense of calm, allowing you to restart the conversation with a clearer head.

4. Competing

When people picture the end of a fight, they usually imagine that there’s a winner and a loser. They envision the event as competitive. But, if spouses are trying to win, it usually means that both will ultimately lose.

If you and your spouse are in a disagreement, you need to take a breath and remember that you’re a team. It isn’t one of you against the other. You aren’t in a competition here. Abandon the idea that there’s a winner and a loser. Instead, try to find a solution that lets you both move forward in a positive direction, increasing the odds that you’ll create a win-win.

5. Hurling Insults

Throwing insults is never productive. All it does is hurt the other spouse. Plus, depending on what you say, it could fundamentally alter the relationship. As far as communication problems are concerned, degrading your spouse can be the hardest to walk back from as your spouse might assume the insult is what you really think of them.

During an argument, you need to think before you speak. If you’re angry, that can be difficult. Taking a break from the conversation can be a smart move if you’re worried you’ll say something you’ll regret. Otherwise, you need to really consider every word before it escapes your mouth. Even an incredibly brief pause before you respond can be enough.

6. Bring Up the Past

One of the bigger communication problems a couple might face is the urge to through a spouse’s past mistakes in their face. Using a past loss or misstep doesn’t make your case stronger. It actually serves no purpose but to hurt your spouse.

If you’ve had a disagreement in the past that isn’t relevant to your discussion now, leave it where it belongs (in the past). Anything that you’ve previously resolved or moved beyond shouldn’t become ammunition now. Instead, keep your discussion focused on the topic at hand.

7. Not Listening

During a heated conversation, many people focus on pleading their case. The moment their spouse brings up a point, they start focusing on what they are going to say next. The issue is, this approach means you aren’t fully listening to what your spouse is saying and could miss something important. You’re focused on what you’ll broach when you get your next chance to talk, and that could make you deaf to what’s being discussed right now.

When you talk with your spouse, don’t start formulating a response while they’re still talking. Instead, concentrate on what they are sharing. As you do, try to put yourself in their shows and really consider their perspective. That way, when it’s your turn to talk, you have as much information and context as possible, increasing the odds that your reply will be productive, respectful, and relevant.

What Marriage and Football Have in Common

In the U.S., football season has been underway for more than a month. Fans from around the country glue themselves to the television every Sunday (as well as Mondays and Thursdays, at least when their teams are playing) to watch two teams face off.

While something as competitive as a football game might not seem like it has a lot in common with marriage, that actually isn’t the case. When you examine how the sport works and what it takes for a team to win, it’s pretty easy to see how the two relate. If you still aren’t sure about that idea, here’s a look at what marriage and football have in common.

Both Are Team Sports

In a way, marriage is a team sport, just like football. Think of it this way; if a football team’s players only focused on what they wanted as individuals, would it work? Probably not. While they might all agree that winning is the main goal, they won’t see eye to eye on how to get there or the role they should each play during the course of the game. Each player would start pushing their own agenda, and that might lead to some less than ideal outcomes, including resentment from others on the team, poor choices, and even chaos instead of clear joint decision-making. The same issues can arise in a marriage if you aren’t careful.

It’s important to remember that you and your spouse are in it together, both hoping to “win” at the game of life. In order to make that happen, you need to work together. You must align yourself with the same major goals, choose “plays” that help you advance toward the end zone, and rely on each other to keeping moving forward. Additionally, you need to respect what your spouse brings to the table and their perspective.

Good Communication Makes a Difference

Football is all about communication. Teams gather in huddles, quarterbacks discuss options with their coaches, and audibles are called when quick changes need to happen before a play starts. When you think about it, there’s a ton of talking in football, and it should be the same way in your marriage.

Communication is critical if you want your marriage to thrive. By using effective communication techniques, including active listening, you can both ensure that your thoughts and perspectives are known, concerns are heard, and compromises can be reached when necessary.

If you don’t communicate with one another, you are setting yourself up for failure. You won’t know what problems might be brewing if you don’t talk to each other. Plus, you can’t find solutions to issues if one of you doesn’t know that something is wrong.

Planning Is Critical for Success

Football teams rely on a playbook to coordinate their actions during a game. It clues everyone into the larger plan and outlines what moves will occur when. Essentially, a playbook is a plan for success.

In a marriage, planning is also crucial. You need to consider what your joint goals are and decide what path is best for achieving your objectives. This could include creating “plays” for managing money, career advancement, buying a home, having children, retiring, and more.

Consider all of the kinds of points that may cause strife in your marriage. Then, instead of leaving things to chance, sit down with your spouse and come up with plans. Learn each other’s perspectives on every topic and see if you are on the same page. Discuss how you would both like to tackle it and work toward a consensus.

Once you reach an agreement, make it formal. Write it down so you can both refer to it whenever the need arises. In the end, you’ll create a playbook that will keep you focused on what matters to you both as a couple.

Learning is Fundamental

Even the best football teams work to improve. Each player tries to enhance their skills or acquire ones they don’t have to overcome any weaknesses. They apply themselves to the idea of continuous growth, ensuring they are always at their best.

In a marriage, learning is fundamental as well. You both need to work to be at your best, and that can involve spending time improving yourself. After all, neither of you know everything. Plus, your situation is ever-evolving. Life is unpredictable, so you need to be ready to do what it takes to keep thriving. Plus, even the predictable parts require new perspectives and capabilities.

If you spot a hole in your game, consider what you can do to fill it. That way, your team becomes stronger, ensuring you and your spouse are in the best position to win as possible.

Ultimately, no football team has a winning season by accident. It takes time, planning, dedication, communication, and working together toward common goals. The same thing is true with marriage, so remember that you, as a couple, are in this together as you may your way toward the end zone.

5 Tips to Help Newlyweds Flourish in Their First Year

Getting married is an amazing and wonderful thing. It marks a turning point in your relationship and comes with a sense of optimism about the future. However, your first year of marriage is also hard work. You have to develop new patterns as a couple, learn how to manage your life as a unit instead of as individuals, and overcome challenges you might not expect.

Figuring out how to thrive during your first year as a married couple is daunting. This is especially true since most of the advice you receive during this early stage is fairly cliché (and not all of it is actually that wise). But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to flourish as you launch your life together. Here are five tips that can help newlyweds start their marriage off right.

1. Thank Each Other

An attitude of gratitude can go a long way during your first year of marriage. It ensures that neither of you takes the other for granted. Additionally, it increases the odds that you’ll both notice what you give to each other and the relationship.

When your spouse does something for you, thank them. Even if it’s as small as grabbing you a drink from the fridge when they were already in the kitchen, showing your gratitude brings a positive tone to the relationship. That alone makes it worthwhile as it ensures that your marriage is built on mutual appreciation.

2. Don’t Neglect Yourself

When you first get married, it’s normal to focus heavily on your spouse’s needs. You want to nurture them and the relationship, so you put a lot of energy into going the extra mile for them.

The trouble is, if you aren’t nurturing yourself as well, you aren’t giving yourself a chance to rejuvenate and reset. Self-care is important. Make sure you take time to handle your own needs as well and let your spouse do the same. In the end, your relationship will be better off for it.

3. Do New Things Together

After your wedding, you might experience a bit of an emotional dip. After all, planning for the event and the idea of getting married are really exciting, so you’ve probably spent months (or longer) living on a bit of a high. Then, once you start to settle into your life together, it might seem like your lives have gotten a bit dull in comparison.

Luckily, it is possible to reignite that spark almost whenever you wish. You can inject a sense of excitement into your marriage. If you want to keep your connection strong and energy level up, have “adventures” together.

Trying something new as a couple can strengthen your relationship, allowing you to forge a stronger bond. You could explore a new city over a long weekend, try a type of cuisine you’ve both never had, take a class together, or anything else. As long as it is something neither of you has experienced, even if it’s small, it can work wonders.

4. Balance Doesn’t Require a 50/50 Split

Many newlywed couples assume that, if they are going to be equals in the relationship, everything has to be split down the middle. They might believe that if they don’t each take on half of the cooking, cleaning, and similar responsibilities, the relationship is unbalanced. However, that isn’t the case.

Equality in a relationship doesn’t mean splitting everything down the middle. That’s an incredibly rigid notion, and it rarely works over the long-term. Instead, it’s about each spouse supporting the other while being adaptable.

For example, there may be times when one of you is overwhelmed at work while the other isn’t. When that happens, it’s better to adjust your home responsibilities accordingly, allowing the overworked spouse a bit of breathing room thanks to the support of the other. Then, when that work situation calms, things can be readjusted as necessary.

The idea is to understand that the demands on your time and energy will ebb and flow. In order to maintain balance, you’ll both need to be able to roll with waves and adapt to the changing tides. That way, you can adjust whenever circumstances make that a necessity, ensuring everyone feels that they are doing their fair share while offering support when it is needed most.

5. Be Kind to Yourselves

Most couples build up the idea of their marriage in their minds. The trouble is, when you envision this perfect life together and then the unexpected happens (and it will), it’s harder to stomach. A misstep might lead you to think that you’re failing, and that mindset can be detrimental to your marriage.

First and foremost, understand that it’s okay that not every day in your marriage will be perfect. Don’t beat yourself up about it, and don’t be afraid to talk about it with your spouse, either. During the first year of marriage, you are figuring a lot of things out. Along the way, you’ll both make mistakes, and that’s alright.

Learning how to be married is a process. Don’t obsess over whether you both are doing everything “right.” Instead, work together to discover what works best for you as a couple. Talk about the challenges to find solutions and listen to one another as you work to build the marriage you both want and deserve.

My Favorite Quotes About Marriage

Much has been said about marriage — both positive and negative — by men and women who have entered or refrained from the ties of wedlock.  The following collection of quotes shares many thoughts on the subject of marriage from various perspectives with an eye towards irreverence and wit.

“Marriage has too often been portrayed as two people frozen together side by side, as immobile as marble statues.  More accurately, it is the intricate and graceful cooperation of two dancers who through long practice have learned to match each other’s movements and moods in response to the movement of the spheres.” David R. Mace

“Marriage is to think together.” Robert C. Dodds

“An ideal wife is any woman who has an ideal husband.” Sacha Guitry

“Marriage is a mistake every man should make.” George Jessel

“A man who wants a happy marriage must learn to keep his mouth shut and his checkbook open.” Groucho Marx

“She’s my girl…she’s my blue sky.  After sixteen years, I still bite her shoulders.  She makes me feel like Hannibal crossing the Alps.” John Cheever

“Of all the home remedies, a good wife is best.” Kin Hubbard

“A man’s best possession is a sympathetic wife.” Euripides

“Success in marriage does not come merely through finding the right mate, but through being the right mate.” Barnett R. Brickner

“One advantage of marriage is that, when you fall out of love with him or he falls out of love with you, it keeps you together until you fall in again.” Judith Viorst

”Never get married in the morning, because you never know who you’ll meet that night.” Paul Hornung

“I’ve been married to one Marxist and one Fascist and neither one would take the garbage out.” Lee Grant

“Man gets nothing brighter than a kind wife.” Semonides

“Marriage is three parts love

And seven parts forgiveness” Langdon Mitchell

“Choose a wife by your ear rather than your eye.” Thomas Fuller

“Marriage is an alliance entered into by a man who can’t sleep with the window shut, and a woman who can’t sleep with the window open.” George Bernard Shaw

“You can’t appreciate home till you’ve left it, money till it’s spent, your wife till she’s joined a woman’s club.” O. Henry

“What a happy and holy fashion it is that those who love one another should rest on the same pillow.” Nathaniel Hawthorne

“What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility.” Leo Tolstoy

“A good marriage would be between a blind wife and a deaf husband.” Honore de Balzac

“Marriage, ultimately, is the practice of becoming passionate friends.” Harville Hendrix

“The happiness of married life depends upon making small sacrifices with readiness and cheerfulness.” John Seldon

“When people get married because they think it’s a long- time love affair, they’ll be divorced very soon, because all love affairs end in disappointment. But marriage is a recognition of a spiritual identity.” Joseph Campbell

“Why does a woman work ten years to change a man’s habits and then complain that he’s not the man she married?” Barbra Streisand

“Marriage is our last, best chance to grow up.” Joseph Barth

“I was married by a judge. I should have asked for a jury.” Groucho Marx

“As for his secret to staying married: `My wife tells me that if I ever decide to leave, she is coming with me.’”  Jon BonJovi

“An immature person may achieve success in a career but never in marriage.” Benjamin Spock

“He who finds a wife finds what is good.” Proverbs 18:22

“The secret to having a good marriage is to understand that marriage must be total, it must be permanent, and it must be equal.” Frank Pittman

“Marrying for love may be a bit risky, but it is so honest that God can’t help but smile on it.” Josh Billings

“Being married is like having somebody permanently in your corner, it feels limitless, not limited.” Gloria Steinem

“English Law prohibits a man from marrying his mother-in-law.  This is our idea of useless legislation.” Author Unknown

“If the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence, it’s because they take better care of it.” Cecil Selig

“Bigamy is having one wife too many. Monogamy is the same.” Oscar Wilde

“Every man who is high up loves to think he has done it himself; and the wife smiles, and lets it go at that.  It’s only our joke.  Every woman knows that.” James Barrie

“The sum which two married people owe to one another defies calculation.  It is an infinite debt, which can only be discharged through all eternity.” Goethe

“A successful marriage is an edifice that must be rebuilt every day.” Andre Maurois

“Sexiness wears thin after a while and beauty fades, but to be married to a man who makes you laugh every day, ah, now that’s a real treat!” Joanne Woodward