Communication with a spouse, even in the best of marriages, can be challenging. Some topics are avoided. Possible reasons are:
1. Who needs another fight.
2. Who wants to get hurt.
3. Who wants to hurt the other.
4. Who wants to lose.
5. Who wants to sleep with the dog.
Because of the above reasons, and others, individuals in a marriage too often stuff their feelings, concerns and wants. They don’t talk about what bothers them. Some people can’t communicate well when intense feelings come up. Others can’t think fast enough on their feet to present an opposing view when challenged.
Let’s look at a different communication scenario. Picture this: You have been working at a company for over a year. You have received some compliments on your work from your boss, but no raise. You are frustrated and ready to speak up for your raise. This is a touchy situation. What might you do? Hopefully, and probably, you would think it through, figure out what you want, put it on paper, practice what you want to say, schedule an appointment, sense what kind of mood s/he is in, and then respectfully state your case. When the objections come, you will have anticipated them, and will calmly give a rationale why the objections are not pertinent. Perhaps a time of reflection for both of you might be called for, so you request a follow up meeting. If push comes to shove, you probably will be prepared to compromise so that a harmonious relationship can continue that will allow the boss to continue to appreciate your good work and respect your assertiveness. This may well lead to greater success down the line.
Perhaps some of the same principles and practice are applicable for communicating with your spouse on a touchy subject. Once you know how you feel about something and what you want, try this:
1. Tell you spouse that you have something you want to discuss with him/her.
2. Ask what would be a good time for such a meeting.
3. Being respectful, you state:
a)What you see going on. Your perception.
b) How you feel about it.
c) What you want
4. Depending on the spouse’s response, be prepared to meet objections, schedule a follow up, compromise if needed.
Bottom line, always put the relationship first. Most disagreements, concerns and problems pass on and become irrelevant over time. But if the communication about such things is not handled well, the relationship is severely damaged. Life is about priorities. Unlike business, changing spouses is a whole lot more difficult than changing jobs!