In spite of how effectively you are communicating with neighbors, co-workers and friends, in order to get through to your spouse, you may need to adhere to the following rules:
1. Begin with something positive.
Whenever you need to have a serious discussion with anyone, it is always advisable to begin with something positive. You must be sincere and not use artificial praise as a form of manipulation. People automatically become defensive when they hear someone beginning with negatives, such as criticism or complaints. But if the same comments were preceded by a compliment, people would be vastly more open to consider what they are being told. So if you need to express your dissatisfaction to your spouse (and who doesn’t?!), try to begin speaking by offering a few words of approval.
2. Be sure it’s the right time and place.
Don’t manipulate your spouse. Don’t invite your spouse out to the movies when you really plan on having “the talk” at a restaurant. Be honest. Timing of the talk is very crucial. Pick the right time for the conversation. Generally, it is advisable to actively check out your spouse’s readiness by asking, “I have something to discuss with you is this a good time?” If your spouse responds, “No,” you can ask when (s)he thinks (s)he will be ready to talk. Don’t expect to have the talk immediately you introduce the topic. It is important that you give your spouse some time to think about the topic you want to talk about. While this may postpone your being able to speak, it will improve your chances of being heard when you do finally get the floor. After all the goal is so you are able to pass on the information, right?
3. Be sure you have your spouse’s attention.
If you need to speak to your spouse about an important or sensitive subject, be sure that (s)he is not too angry or distracted but that you have your spouse’s attention. You may want to approach the discussion like this, “I’ve been thinking about …”, “What do you think about …”, “I’d like to talk about …”, “I want to have a better understanding of your point of view about …” Don’t beat around the bush. Keep it simple.
4. Be sure you clarify your needs.
You will not be able to get what you want from your spouse unless you are able to articulate exactly what your needs are. You have to tell your spouse not only what bothers you, but also what you would have wanted done differently. Some people have a very difficult time spelling out what they want from their spouses. “I shouldn’t have to ask,” they insist. “(S)he should know on his/her own what I want. If I have to ask, then I would rather not have it!” These people harbor the wish that their needs will be fulfilled by their spouses knowing without being told. Certainly it is very gratifying to have your needs met without even asking. But it is unrealistic to expect that level of service all the time.
“The heart of the godly thinks carefully before speaking; the mouth of the wicked overflows with evil words.” Proverbs 15:28 (NLT)
“Kind words are like honey, sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” Proverbs 16:28 (NLT)