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You’re blissfully in love and thrilled to spend every moment with your spouse during your honeymoon. Then the first week of marriage comes – and you have your first argument.

The first time you have a communication breakdown can be incredibly scary for your marriage and make you question if you chose the right person. If not developed properly, lack of positive communication with your spouse can lead you down a slippery slope where you both can’t figure out how to express everything you needed to, and you may have resorted to hurting each other with words. Instead of building each other up, you tare each other down and cause each other emotional pain.

If you are having communication problems with your spouse, don’t panic. Every couple will have this problem during their marriage, but certain skills can help you resolve the issues quicker. Here are some great ways you can improve communication with your spouse so that your marriage can grow.

Listen With Intent

If you want to communicate better, it actually starts with keeping your mouth closed. Instead of immediately starting a fight, give your spouse a chance to speak and listen to what they say before responding. It may be that you’re misinterpreting the behavior, he or she wasn’t conscious of how you feel, or you’re doing or saying something to influence them. Whatever the case may be, unless you hear your partner out, you’ll never know. Only once you have all the information about why your partner chose to do what they did can you respond appropriately.

Express Negative Feelings Constructively

There will be times when you feel bitterness, resentment, disappointment or disapproval. These feelings need to be communicated in order for change to occur, however how you choose to express these thoughts is critical. “I am really disappointed that you are working late again tonight,” is very different from, “You clearly do not care one whit about me or the kids. If you did, you would not work late every night.” For a marriage to succeed, both spouses must be able to express their complaints without getting defensive and angry. Additionally, each spouse must learn how to hear negative feedback without immediately getting upset. Simply because your spouse is disappointed in your actions, doesn’t mean they hate you. This is much harder than learning how to express negative feelings effectively.

Time Your Conversations Correctly

The book of Proverbs tells us, “A man finds joy in giving an apt reply—and how good is a timely word!” (15:23). While we want to tell our spouses everything immediately, we have to find the correctly time to do so. We might want to tell our partner about a stressful problem we are going through, but during the middle of dinner while the children are crying probably isn’t going to be the best bet. Your partner will not be able to communicate effectively back with so much outside influence, despite their desire to want to help you. Plan a time each day where you and your spouse can just sit and chat. You can ask the big question you have had on your mind and your partner will have the slot of time available just for you, where they can respond effectively. Just be careful not to let too many problems build up over time, and get your conversations out quickly if they are important.

Ask More Questions

Not everyone is forthcoming with information, especially if something is bothering them. Make it a habit of asking your partner how they are doing and how their day was. Even if your spouse is not always interested in speaking with you at length at that exact moment, it shows that you are trying to care for them and that you are available if they need you. Expressing that you’re interested will go a long way toward keeping the lines free when your partner does want to talk.

Make Regular Small Talk

You may think talking about a TV show or even the weather is far from connecting emotionally, but these supposedly insignificant details are actually more likely to improve your close emotional ties to your partner. Even making a grocery list together can be a way of sharing space and time, and can become a way of showing love—for instance, when you add your partner’s favorite cookies to the list without being asked. You are communicating a genuine interest in the small details that make up your partner’s day, even if they seem boring or irrelevant.

Communicating with your spouse is incredibly important if you want your marriage to survive. When you fight often, it’s typically because there is a lack of communication somewhere in the marriage. Learning how to communicate more effectively with these tips will help you marriage get back on the right track. You will be able to maintain a more happy, healthy and successful marriage.