Amazing love doesn’t happen by accident.
Oftentimes, couples are negative and sarcastic in their communication with one another. This often happens when they feel they haven’t been heard by their spouse, or that their spouse just doesn’t care about what they have to say.
Unfortunately, when people feel put down or unimportant, they become angry and resentful. Negativity and sarcasm become even more pronounced in their relationship. Everything that is said between the two people becomes destructive and damaging for people who don’t know how to communicate effectively.
These couples begin to put up walls to protect themselves from one another, and those walls create distance between them, driving them farther away from a happy marriage. In contrast, successful couples develop the ability to prioritize positive communication with each other.
Positive, healthy communication involves important components and communication skills you may not have. But for couples who really want to learn how to communicate effectively, here are 5 ways to start. You’ll build a healthy and happy marriage in the process.
1. Be Open and Honest.
Each spouse speaks the truth in love to one another. There is no fear of speaking to one’s spouse about one’s thoughts and feelings. It is not about getting your own way about everything or winning the argument every time or being “right” all the time. It is about expressing honestly how you feel or what you think about a situation.
It is not about saying “I don’t care or I don’t know.” Instead, speak using “I” statements: “I think or I feel or it is my thought that…” Remember that your thoughts are yours and your opinions are yours. They don’t have to be the same as your spouse’s and he or she does not have to have the same thoughts and opinions that you have. One is not “right” and one wrong;” they are just different. And it’s okay to agree to disagree about certain things at times.
However, there may be times when it is necessary for each spouse to compromise some of his/her own thoughts and opinions in order to move closer to each other and make important decisions. Neither you nor your spouse should be scared to express your opinions and work together on a compromise.
2. Start with Empathy.
Couples who have healthy relationships are able to express empathy toward one another in their communication. They realize that in order to have a positive interaction, they need to understand what it is like to “walk in each other’s shoes.”
It is important for couples to be able to express that they “get” what the other person is feeling or thinking even if they do not feel or think the same way. To express that “I would probably think or feel the same way if I had experienced that same situation or issue in my life.”
Even if one of you has a differing idea about the situation, or doesn’t see it as a problem, it’s important to understand why your partner thinks and feels that way. In positive communication, couples spend time talking about how each person sees a particular situation, and each attempts to understand what it would be like to feel what the other feels.
3. Speak from the Heart.
Positive communication in a relationship means that each person feels a deep, heartfelt connection with the other person. It means that each spouse will think — and possibly say out loud — “I love you, and because I love you, I care about what you think and feel.” It is extremely important to let your spouse know that you are interested in what he/she is thinking and feeling and that you want to hear it.
But it isn’t enough to just say it; you have to follow through. You must pay attention to what your spouse is saying and really take it to heart and work at understanding it.
4. Never Use Sarcasm or Hurtful Words to Put the Other Person Down.
Sometimes people use words that hurt and are sarcastic in order to cause the other person to feel defeated and in order to get their own way. This is not playful banter that couples often engage in when having fun together. This communication is meant to discourage and do harm.
Healthy communication means you both avoid using words that sting and sarcastic remarks that are meant to hurt. Positive communication allows you to be honest. It also allows each person to center on their own thoughts and feelings about an issue WITHOUT putting the other person “in his/her place!”
5. Really, Truly Listen.
Each person must pay close attention to what the other has to say, which means that each person looks at the other and is not distracted by other things such as computers, phones, television shows, children. If you are having a difficult time staying tuned into your spouse while he/she is talking, maybe you need to ask if you can pick up the discussion at a better time when you are less distracted.
Or, maybe you need to ask your spouse for some clarification about what is being discussed. One way to do that is to say what you think your spouse has been saying, and then ask if you are tracking with the conversation. Always maintain focus and do not interrupt.
It is also important for the one who is speaking to be aware of the other’s ability to stay tuned into the conversation. This can be accomplished by not going on and on without stopping to ask if your spouse is tracking or needs a break.
This guest article originally appeared on YourTango.com: 5 Things People With Deliriously HAPPY Marriages Always Do When They Fight.