Ask any seasoned marriage counselor why married couples fight, and, without much hesitation, they will probably rattle off infidelity, money and poor communication. Effective communication is an essential part of any healthy relationship because it allows each person’s needs to be heard, validated and acted upon. As a husband, father and role model in the home, you not only have to communicate effectively with your kids, but also with their mother.
When married couples communicate in a positive way it helps build a mature, healthy foundation for dealing with household problems as they arise. And, it sets a good example for children who later go on to start their own families. If you’re a loving husband and father who’s interested in improving upon his communication skills, here are some ways to make it happen.
Avoid these Bad Habits when Communicating
Let's start with what not to do. These are examples of communication habits that should be avoided:
• Using threats and other intimidation tactics
• Going to bed angry
• Playing the “blame game”
• Passive aggressive behavior
• Not listening actively or attentively
• Keeping secrets that are important to the relationship
• Yelling and screaming
• Tuning out or ignoring the other person
When a married couple who “once upon a time” fell madly in love start showing these toxic signs, communication is going to be a problem. Given enough time, those differences will probably carry over to the kids and potentially play out in the form of anger, anxiety, depression and other emotional issues.
Keeping the Lines of Communication Open
If you remember back to your “courtship” days, you and your wife probably couldn’t even go one day without communicating with each other - whether by phone, email or text. But over the years, priorities change and that’s normal in any marriage, especially when babies come along. However, it doesn’t mean that you can’t still show one another love and affection.
As a loving husband and father, here are 5 ways to keep those marital lines of communication open so that your marriage will be happier and healthier, and will set a good example for your kids:
1. Own Your Feelings
It’s easy to point out your partner’s flaws, but good communication starts with taking ownership of how you feel inside. Instead of pointing fingers and playing the “blame game”, be honest with yourself about what or who is the underlying cause of your stress - like that boss who just passed you over for an important promotion… again.
Take responsibility for your feelings and seek ways to get past those issues rather than dumping them on your wife. Keep in mind that she has her own set of feelings to deal with, especially if she has been battling all day with energetic kids!
2. Make Time to Talk
Once you start sensing that you both need to talk some things out, set aside some time specifically for doing so. Choose a time of day when interruptions will be at a minimum, like after the kids go to bed. Switch off your phones, turn off the TV and then give one another your undivided attention.
Cramming in important discussions over the TV volume or while heading to the grocery store isn’t going to work nearly as well as sitting down, distraction-free, in a quiet room.
3. Be Kind and Respectful
A little bit of kindness and respect go a long way in any relationship, including a marriage. If your spouse seems tense, don’t fight fire with fire. Look for windows of opportunity to speak gently with her, and then start the conversation off by letting her know how much you love and appreciate who she is. Be specific while thanking her for the little things she does on a daily basis, like getting the kids ready for school or making dinner.
Also show respect to your spouse by making eye contact, listening attentively to her needs and following through on any promises you make. Use non-threatening body language and tone of voice, even if you are getting upset. Avoid talking about your marital issues with outsiders unless it’s someone you trust dearly, and never complain about your spouse behind her back!
4. The Past is the Past
One of the biggest communication mistakes that married couples make is dredging up the other person’s past during a disagreement. This just allows old wounds to resurface and fester, and it causes negative feelings like anger, hurt and frustration. All those things are counterproductive in a relationship.
Focus on the issue at hand and let go of the past… even if it still hurts. It is important that both of you understand that forgiveness and compromise needs to occur in marriage so that couples can move forward.
5. Keep That “Fire” Burning
An oftentimes-overlooked part of effective communication is simply letting your wife know that she’s on your mind, and how much she means to you. Keep that “fire” burning by randomly sending her text messages during the day with compliments about how amazing she it. Or, call her on your lunchbreak and let her know how much you appreciate what she does for you and the kids.
You can even go “old school” by leaving a card inside her car or placing a “love note” on her nightstand. Sending flowers is always a great path to a woman’s heart, so keep “showering her” with loving reminders on regular days, not just when your anniversary or Mother’s Day roll around. (But don't forget those days either!)
Some Final Thoughts About Communication
Effective communication between a husband and wife isn’t a one-time thing or one-way street. Rather, it’s a “work in progress” that involves learning to communicate clearly while positively expressing your feelings and listening to your loved one’s needs. In the end, good communication is one of the most important aspects of a happy, healthy marriage. And, it is possible with a little patience, practice and perseverance!
The Bible says that husbands should treat their wives with “humility, gentleness and patience” and that all of us should “show tolerance for one another in love”. This is assuredly important wisdom for effective communication.
However, loving your wife and having a happy marriage doesn't just affect you and your wife. As fathers we are also responsible for being role models to our sons, so that they will treat their wives with love, patience and respect too. We also want our daughters to see what a husband should be and what standard she should abide by when choosing a spouse. That is the legacy we want to leave them. Don't forget that. So, love your wives well so your marriage will thrive, and your children will be greatly blessed too.
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