Next week, my husband and I will celebrate eight years of marriage. If we were Hollywood superstars, that would be an eternity! I still see it as an achievement, even if we’re just regular people. When I sat down to write this piece, I asked my husband what his best marriage advice would be if someone asked him. He said the most important factor in any relationship is good communication. That seems pretty solid to me, so here are my five tips to strengthen communication in a marriage.
Your spouse can’t read minds
Though it’s possible that people exist who can read minds, most of us don’t have that ability. (I’d wager that most of the people you see on TV who claim to do it actually can’t either.) Women are stereotypically blamed for this behavior, but I’d say it’s a potential flaw of any gender. Especially for those couples who’ve been married so long that it almost seems like they actually can read each other’s minds. Though you might think you and your spouse intuitively know exactly what the other is thinking, it’s a good idea to actually TELL him/her/them. And always try to do so respectfully.
If you’re mad, talk to HIM, not your friends
Everyone vents now and then to their friends about their significant other. But if you find yourself constantly trash-talking the person you promised to love above all others, you need to self-reflect. It’s disrespectful to continually gripe about your spouse to your friends and not tell him/her/them what’s bothering you so the problem can possibly be fixed. Doing so helps increase intimacy. Furthermore, your friends might assume your spouse is a gigantic jerk because all you ever do is complain about your relationship.
Maintain outside friendships
Even considering my previous point, it’s still important to cultivate friendships beyond your marriage. Social interaction is healthy for a myriad of reasons. And expecting your partner to be your only source of socialization might be easy, but it’s unfair. You and your spouse both deserve to nurture friendships and interests with others so that when you come back together, you have a greater appreciation for one another.
Pick your battles
Because I’m neurotic, my husband has approximately 87,214 habits that drive me bananas. Approximately 100% of those same habits aren’t important enough to worry about. My husband is kind, intelligent, funny, adventurous, a good listener, and cute. All of those things outweigh the fact that he won’t load the dishwasher the way that I like. One time, I asked him if anything I do annoys him and he – wisely – declined to answer the question! (I bet it’s how I overload the dishwasher, though.)
Laugh as often as you can
This one probably seems like a no-brainer, but that doesn’t make it any less true. You won’t always feel like laughing, and that’s okay – marriage, and life, has its ups and downs. But any time the two of you can share a giggle, do so. My husband and I have similar senses of humor, which is probably part of what drew us together in the first place. But we both helped one another expand what we find funny, and make a point to laugh whenever we can. When one of us is a little grouchy, the other knows how to elicit laughter. That said, we’re respectful of one another’s feelings, and if one of us is really down, we’re there to offer support. My husband and I have our own little inside jokes and sayings that we share only with each other. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
There are a lot more than just five tips for communication in a marriage, but these are my favorites. I don’t think I have the perfect marriage, but I have one where both of us are willing to work on ourselves and any issues that we encounter. I once told a friend that my relationship is a choice I make every day. I am proud to have made that choice for nearly eight years of marriage. Happy early anniversary, Kevin. <3