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Couple Conversations : Communication is Key or How to Fight Fair

Meredith, 30, had been married to Ralph, 32, for more than six years.  She was a stay-at-home wife and he was a top business executive.  Ralph's work has kept him so busy that he really thinks that he has no time to start a “family.” His frequent business travelers have kept him away from home several days, and even weeks at a time.  Like a typical workaholic, Ralph has made the same mistake committed by many career-driven husbands --- neglecting his wife.  This situation has even made Meredith think that Ralph is really married to his career and not to her.  Meredith and Ralph had been fighting more than ever before and it was pretty obvious that there was already a serious problem with their marriage. She accuses him of being cold and indifferent, and he accuses her of being a nagger.   All their marital woes have caused them enormous stress and anxiety.

Aside from financial trouble, infidelity, and problems with the in-laws, many marriages suffer from the simple lack of communication.  Like Meredith and Ralph,  many couples fail to resolve their problems early on.  As a result, couples grow further apart and are left to struggle with their respective anger and frustration.  Instead of speaking with each other as adults, many couples resort to withdrawal or the “silent treatment.”  In many cases, couples have already formed the way they communicate based on how their own parents communicated with each other.  A person who grew up with parents who constantly fight has the tendency to be argumentative too.   A person who was raised by parents who ignored each other whenever they had problems may have the tendency to ignore his partner and his own problems in marriage.  

It is said that it takes two to tango and it takes two to argue.  But many marriages end up in separation or divorce precisely because the couple even evades quarrels and just chooses to ignore their problem.  With mutual “silent treatment,”  a couple denies their own opportunity to discuss and hopefully resolve their problem.  And when they do talk, the couples would often just exchange accusations and even hurl invectives at one another.  

Many women complain that men are so cold, indifferent, and insensitive to their needs and to the issues that affect their relationship.  They say that men spend too much time at the office and neglect their duties as husband and father.  Women feel angry when men go home only to spend time in front of the t.v. or go out to have drinking sprees with their friends. Men, on the other hand, complain that women are so boisterous, jealous, and nag all the time.  

So, how can men and women in marriage deal with their marital problems?  The first step that couples should take is to improve the way they communicate with each other.  Shown below are some of the ways how couples can improve their communication skills in marriage:

       10 Ways to Communicate Effectively

  1. No name calling  and don't make any threats.
  2. Don't interrupt when your spouse is still speaking.
  3. Don't dominate the discussion and stay on the same topic or issue at hand.
  4. Listen and pay attention to what the other is saying.
  5. Respect each other and be prepared to make changes in the way you think, feel, and behave.
  6. Avoid mentioning or bringing up past mistakes and old resentments.
  7. Don't assume too much that you know what your spouse is thinking or feeling.
  8. Don't  presume that you're always “right” in any argument.
  9. Try to meet half-way or compromise.
  10. Be honest and acknowledge the validity and importance of each other feelings.

Many couples forget that simple affirmation or small acts of love and kindness can do wonders for their marriage. A warm hug or attentively listening to your spouse can bring back a semblance of peace, love, and respect in your relationship.  Indeed, one of the keys to a lasting marriage is effective communication.  Given enough time and lots of patience, any couple on the rocks can revive their marriage.  It just takes a lot of listening and kind words to make your marriage a real match made in heaven.

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