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Good communication within marriage doesn't just happen, just like infants aren't born with the instant ability to speak. Communication is a skill that must be developed, just like any other interactive skill.
"Many people in troubled marriages say, 'We just don't communicate anymore,'" said PsychCentral contributor Erika Krull, a licensed mental health practitioner. "Most likely, they mean to say that they don't communicate effectively anymore."
It takes more effort, of course, to really be present enough to communicate effectively with your spouse. However, here are some reasons making the effort will be worth it.
Communication is a skill you need to practice
Have you ever felt like you've gone days without actually talking face-to-face with your spouse? Between work, commuting, kids, cleaning, laundry, cooking, and sleep, a married couple's life is busy and demanding. By the end of the day, all either of you really wants to do is mindlessly munch popcorn and binge-watch Netflix.
While a good cuddle at the end of the day is nice, it can't replace a good honest conversation where you share your successes and frustrations from the day, your hopes for the future, and your love for each other. If you don't talk often enough, your ease of conversation will disappear, making it even more difficult to communicate when you have disagreements or face challenges.
Conflict is necessary
Sometimes it might feel like a large part of marital communication centers around disagreements. The fact is, conflict resolution is a healthy part of any relationship.
Author Charles Murray gave advice for a happy life and said, "If something about your prospective spouse bothers you but you think that you can change your beloved after you're married, you're wrong."
Spouses often hold grudges or leave the conversation. These behaviors bespeak a lack of effective communication. The only way to solve a problem is to work through it.
Marital satisfaction requires communication
Could you really feel happy in your marriage if you and your spouse never spoke? An article in the Journal of Applied Sciences pointed out that in order for wives to have ultimate marital satisfaction, they must be able to "self-disclose with their spouses and perceive their partners as responsive." Husbands desire an appropriate "degree of input they perceive they get in the relationship." Neither of these factors would be possible without open channels of communication.
It comes as no surprise that a major part of communication involves listening, and this is another skill you must develop over time. A North Carolina State University Family and Consumer Sciences article explained, "Good listeners do not supply ready solutions; they only facilitate the 'out-loud' thinking needed to understand and resolve problem areas."
The first step to good listening is to learn to respond "reflectively," which means you can understand and paraphrase back to your spouse what he or she just said to you. This shows you're actively listening and internalizing his or her message, not just letting the words wash over you.
You'll learn you don't know everything
Think you know everything there is to know about your spouse of 10 years? Think again. A couple who truly communicates well never stops learning new things about each other, even when you see one another every day. Lifehack has a list of 100 questions couples can use to spice up date night. Do you know what your husband or wife's favorite thing you do for him or her is? Does he or she ever feel jealous? Do you know his or her favorite song or book? If not, it's time to find out.
Arthur C. Brookswrote, "Attract people who don't see things the same way." When you have different viewpoints, you can learn even more.
You can share a new perspective
Odds are, you didn't marry someone who has all the same opinions you do, and that's a good thing. It's our differences that make us interesting to one another, and in marriage you can learn to understand a differing point of view, or perhaps even share it, if your spouse presents a convincing enough argument. That can only happen, however, when you each feel safe enough to talk about things that matter to you without the fear of judgment.
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