Marriage Matters: Communication

Communication is the lifeblood that keeps the marriage viable and thriving. It is how we connect whether it is simple humor or an issue that is going to have a major impact on the family’s life. It is vital.

Hubby and I sometimes disagree over communication styles. We occasionally joke that we are the only marriage where the typical gender stereotypes are completely reversed when it comes to communication. By far, he is the talker.

Hubby’s journey from point A to B in a conversation is by way of points W, X, Y and Z first. A common husband-style question sounds like: “So, I ran into Joe at lunch today. You remember him, right? He’s the guy with brown hair and glasses that we saw a couple of years ago at Blarney’s – you know, the restaurant downtown near Table 44. Do you remember how good those homemade potato chips were? We need to go back there soon. Well, Joe said that Bob was coming into town this weekend. He was the bald guy at the Christmas party last year that moved down to Kentucky. You talked to his wife who was a nurse for a while that night…………………………. (I would fill in more details, but this is about where I begin to space out while I wait for him to get to the point of the conversation)…. …………………..They are meeting up for drinks after work on Friday. Would you like to go?”

My version: “Do you want to grab some drinks on Friday with some of my co-workers?”

Needless to say, our communication problems usually gravitate to some variation of me not being talkative enough or not being in the mood to process a conversation with him. We joke about it sometimes, but there are plenty of other times where it is a genuine struggle in our marriage. After being together for 13 years, we have figured out that it is sometimes best to communicate about whether it is a good time for me to engage in a conversation before he starts in order to avoid that conflict.

There are several major ingredients that go into having good communication. The base of it all is honesty. You have to say exactly what you mean. Glossing over important information because of fear of how your spouse will react to the details can lead to increased conflict.

Using infertility treatment as an example here are 6 Keys to achieving useful, clear communication.

Intent – What would you like to do? Be specific. Is it an IUI or IVF? Do you need a break from treatment? How long do you want to pursue this?

Expectation – Why do you want to do this specific regime or take a break? Giving reasoning for the intent helps the spouse see your point of view.

Assessing spouse agreeability – Are you on the same page? Does your plan and timeline work for your spouse as well? Emotionally, is your spouse prepared to take the next step(s)?

Listening – Drop the agenda in getting your way at the door. Marriage is a partnership. You need to listen with an open mind to your partner’s response. Their thoughts and feelings are equally as important as your own.

Confirming – Repeat what you hear your spouse saying. It helps to clarify that you understood what they are saying and avoids problems related to assuming you know what your spouse means.

Compromise – Yes compromise. This journey is a two person journey that requires give and take on both parts. Finding a middle ground that both spouses are comfortable with is important.

Open, honest communication can go a long way in helping a marriage survive such a stressful circumstance. Infertility is riddled with intense emotions and desires. The willingness to work together and talk openly will strengthen the relationship and make the ups and downs of the journey more bearable. It is possible to walk out of this valley stronger than when you entered in. Infertility should not drain a marriage to the extent that if a child finally enters the family, bonds are so strained that the marriage is in jeopardy of surviving. Remember, you are in this together, for better or for worse!

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