In marriage it’s common for one partner to talk more than the other. No mystery there, you can probably even name that person in all of the couples you know. Great communication happens all the time when one person talks more than the other, after all, someone has to listen.
However, some relationships crumble to the point where only one person does all the talking. They pursue, their partner withdraws. Some couples I see for marriage counseling essentially consist of one loud “talker” and one silent “mime.” Actually, the talkers I have met might prefer to talk to a real mime because at least a mime would use gestures and facial expressions. When their partner doesn’t respond to their communication efforts, the talker is often left feeling alone, angry, and betrayed.
To restore communication:
1. Examine your schedule. If you only have a few moments together in a week, it could be your spouse needs more time to communicate with you effectively. Communication is often inadequate when time is inadequate.
Sharing Facebook posts with your spouse is not healthy communication. Liking their posts is not enough of a compliment to substitute for telling them “I love you” or “I appreciate you” in person.
2. Remember the good times. Constant frustration with your spouse or trying to communicate with an attitude of annoyance or anger will not improve the communication. Remind yourself why you love them. Communication difficulties easily frustrate and when anger or hopelessness dominate your thoughts, your marriage is in trouble. Remember good times to rekindle positive feelings.
3. Get curious. Ask your spouse to clarify why the communication came up short. Assumptions are full of inaccuracies and only cause trouble. Don’t make damaging assumptions like “They don’t love me because they don’t talk to me” or “If they loved me they would improve their communication.”
4. Adjust expectations. If it turns out your spouse is not a Ronald Reagan (the great communicator) adjust your expectations and move forward. It could be your assessment of the situation is inaccurate. If your expectations are too extreme, dial it back. Your spouse may be communicating better than you realize. So they are not a great orator, that’s ok.
5. Stop talking and listen. Some people stop talking but only when they are exhausted and unable to really listen. If your spouse doesn’t say much, lean in close and listen to what they do say. It could be helpful for you to set up a communication center for your marriage. A communication center consists of a scheduled time and place to really communicate free of distractions like kids and phones.
6. Communicate clearly yourself. Sabotaging your communication efforts by giving the silent treatment to teach them a lesson simply doesn’t work. I know you think it should, but no. Next, help them out. Give them a gimme. Clearly suggest what you would like them to say. It could sound like “please tell me how great I look tonight” or “please tell me I like spending time with you” It won’t quite feel right when they respond after telling them what to say, but it’s a start. It’s communicating what you want. It may feel like they will never initiate conversation on their own but eventually they will get the idea.
What do you need to do to restore communication with your spouse?