Effective Communication: The Key to a Long-Term Relationship
Why I am qualified to give advice
My wife and I, have been married for 13 years. I've never divorced, and all of my children are by the same woman. I'm not saying that those are bad things, but I am saying I must be doing something right. My thirteen years of marriage hasn't been easy. For one thing, my wife and I are two very different people. She is the serious type, yet I'm silly. She's an outgoing person, and I'm a reserved person.
I can't sit down with her and watch comedy shows because she doesn't like them. We always have to watch horror movies or drama. She doesn't even watch action movies. Planning a trip to the movies only benefits her. I often go to the movies on my own to see the films I like. We have cultural disagreements. While I believe African-American history is important, she doesn't.
However, in our thirteen years of marriage, we have argued about five times. Some couples fuss that many times within one day. The key to our success is that we communicate very well. We don't let issues go days and weeks without discussing them. If she wants an argument, I don't let her; I leave home until she calms down even if it take days and we talk about them away from each other. That's enough about us right now, let's start the discussion on communication.
Respect your differences
I'm sure the saying that men are from Mars and women are from Venus has been mentioned a hundred times, but it's true. We are different, and we must compromise to survive a relationship.Think of something you don't like, but your mate does.Try doing it sometimes and watch the results. I notice I got more out of my wife when I did the things she liked. It may have taken me out of my comfort zone, but the results were wonderful. Some differences men have compared to women are:
- Men generally don't like to have long conversations
- They like to get straight to the point
- Don't like arguing
- Hints don't work very well with men
- Men don't like to be questioned
Believe it or not, these are important when communicating with men. Instead of picking with a man; try to sympathize with him, and remember being humble doesn't mean being submissive. Going with the flow and not against the waves are what you are seeking to accomplish with men.
Men and women have psychological differences as well as physical differences. A woman is affected by nature, like the moon's 28-day or 29-day cycle, so they are flexible. Men are more concrete and are not willing to change as much. What does this have to do with communication? Everything! You can't talk to a concrete block; men are hard headed. Just soften us up, and we will soak things in like a sponge.
Do you respect your lover differences?
As mentioned in the introduction, my wife and I seldom argue. We are good communicators, but I give most of the credit to her. She is determined to talk about things that may be bothering her even when I don't want to. Talking things out is much like getting something off of your chest, the stress seems to disappear.
A bad approach:
"We need to talk when you get home."
The man or woman is already on the defense and is probably saying in their head, what in the hell he/she wants to talk about. Also, they may be thinking what's going on is he/she cheating on me, pregnant, or about to leave me, etc.
A good approach:
"Let's talk about some things we can work on together to better our relationship/marriage."
Look at the difference.This person now feels like their mate is willing to compromise to better their relationship. Not only does it make them feel better, but it shows that the person genuinely cares about their relationship/marriage.
What a difference a change of words makes in a conversation. When our approach is not great, hostility waits for us at the door. Be willing to sacrifice everything about yourself to make your relationship/marriage work. If I can so can you because honestly, I don't like to talk. If you're out telling your friends about your relationship problems but are not discussing them with your lover, then you are communicating with the wrong individuals.That brings us to the next topic, to speak with anyone, we must know their language.
What is your love language?
In Gary Chapman's book The 5 Love Languages, he discusses how people respond depending on their love language. If two people are speaking different languages, there is no way that they can communicate. In his book he list the following love languages:
- Words of Affirmation
- Quality Time
- Receiving Gifts
- Acts of Service
- Physical Touch
Discovering you and your partner's love language will benefit your relationship significantly. In most cases, a woman will make it clear what her language is. They say things like "you have to spend time with me to earn my love"(Quality Time) or "I like to be held" (Physical Touch). For a man, he may say something like "I like a woman that cooks" (Acts of Service) or "I like to hear encouraging words" (Words of Affirmation).
Use those languages to your advantage and use them often. Once the honeymoon is over, we tend to forget our partners love language. Often the things we did to get that person in the first place comes to a sudden halt, and that's when the problems start.
What is your Love Language?
- Don't argue
- Stay calm
- Be open for criticism
- If you are angry, just go for a walk, and calm down before talking to your partner
- Learn each others love language
- Select a better choice of words instead of words that entice an argument
- Don't go to sleep mad at each other
- Practice active listening
- 93% of Communication is non-verbal
The Keys to Effective Communication
Chapman, G. (2010). The 5 love languages. The secret to love that lasts. Chicago, IL: Northfield Publishing.