Are you running out of topics to have a meaning full conversation with your spouse? Gone are the days when you used to be up all night glued to your phone sharing every tiny detail of your day with your partner from taxi fare to work to the number of olives and tomatoes in your Subway sandwich. Now all you talk about is how prices of tomatoes are going up and who’s going to take the kids to a birthday party.
While it’s completely fine and equally important to discuss your worries about inflation or your daily family calendar, what most of couples start missing in these everyday exchanges is a real connection. Your husband may be aware when your mobile phone bill is due, but completely unaware of how you how you are doing emotionally. In keeping up with credit card bills, work deadlines, and school assignment submissions for your kids, you start neglecting to check on the overall well-being of your partner. This makes you both feel detached from each other even when you spend family time at the dinner table together (of course trying to have a meal while a toddler throwing his broccoli for the fifth time or your teenage daughter rebelling against her curfew time is not actually a perfect idea of quality time, but well…).
Lack of communication between couples causes emotional disconnect, which leads to general irritation and frustration and may result in sudden flare ups for the smallest reason. You may feel like most of your talks end in arguments with exasperated exchanges.
How to fix communication in a marriage?
If you feel your marriage is missing effective communication and you are wondering how to fix this gap, here are few conversation topics for couples that they are advised to revisit often for a healthy marriage. These might sound like common or basic topics to spend time on (especially when finding time itself is a task with tons of things going on), but are rather delicate yet important to be discussed between couples.
1. Values and opinions
In long term marriages, people generally assume they know their spouses very well, but in reality, we all change and evolve with time and your partner is no exception. With time, everyone’s faith and beliefs change and grow and it is very important for couples to talk about their values and opinions. It is helpful to keep talking about one another’s values and beliefs as this will tell you where they stand now and will help in understanding their point of view on lots of issues and choices.
2. Fears and hesitations
Fears or blocks are the deepest traits of one’s personality and people tend to share these only with those they feel safe around. It is of utmost importance that your spouse feels safe in sharing weaker emotions with you. He/she may have shared their fears earlier when you were dating or in courtship but over the years, those may have changed. (I used to be scared of being alone in my own house once and now I am dreading to be alone at least in my toilet for once!). But jokes apart, share what bothers you most and what you fear most and ease your partner in sharing their worries. It will make both of you more sensitive towards each other’s emotions.
Keep both your account books and your spouse updated (about accounts of course!). You can mutually decide beforehand the amount of details that you are going to be transparent with each other about and stick to it. As you grow in marriage, money becomes an important topic to talk about and avoiding discussion about current and future expenditures will only create more gaps to fill later.
One of the best things about having kids is they come with endless topics of conversation. If you don’t have kids yet, but are planning to have them in the future, discuss the ways you both wish to raise your kids. If you already have kids, well, then I don’t really need to fill you up here with any suggestions, do I? Talking about methods of dealing with kids might cause some turbulence, but they are always issues that should be talked about as frequently as possible, as you both are one team as parents and your ways and means should be validated by each other (as challenging as this may sound).
5. Long term goals
You may be many years into your marriage, but there are always individual aims and personal goals to achieve and they too evolve and grow with us. Talking to your partner about your future plans and getting to know theirs will help you both in understanding where you as a couple are headed.
6. What makes you happy
This might sound like right out of a counselor’s questionnaire and it is undoubtedly one of the most asked questions by any therapist or emotional/life coach. Just like one’s fears or goals, the basic ingredient for their real happiness also keeps changing. Make your significant other ponder the question and you’ll be surprised to see how the answer evolves as the years pass. Knowing that you are aware of their fears and happiness both will further strengthen the faith they have in you as a partner.
How to communicate better with your partner?
Now that you know what issues you need to take up with your spouse on your next “quality time” slot in your family calendar, let’s just dig a little deeper into making this exchange a lot more effective. While you might be impatient to share your thoughts on every subject matter on the agenda, taking the following points into consideration may help in reducing possible hiccups in the process:
- Listen, listen and listen. I know your mind would be jumping to share your side of the story but it is equally crucial that you lend your ear to your partner’s ideas, opinions, and beliefs. Make your partner feel heard. Listen actively and not just react or even respond (yup, it’s nearly impossible to just hear and not cut in, especially with your spouse, but try). At times, just acknowledging their voice and feelings is all someone needs.
- If you’re going to share a complaint, try to start with a compliment (I can understand how hard that can be!) and stick to the issue instead of making a generic complaint. Complete the discussion and close the issue. Don’t sweep it under the rug to bring it up in the next argument.
- When talking about complaints, choose your words wisely. Use more “I” or “we” words more than “you.”Ask yourself, what would you prefer being told: “You are always busy” or “I miss our Friday night drinks”? It’s not what, but how you say it, that changes the game.
- Respect their opinions. You may not agree with a lot of things your partner says and does. And that’s perfectly normal in any marriage. What matters is that you try to understand what they say and even if you don’t agree with it, you still respect it, and not disregard it.
- Get into a habit of booking that “us time” in your schedule more frequently. With family and other responsibilities that life throws at you, it’s the first thing to get pushed to the back burner, but with a little consistent effort, you can open a 2-way channel to exchange your feelings and sentiments more efficiently.
With these topics and tips, I hope you can open a deeper and more meaningful conversation with your spouse.