Thursday, November 19, 2009

By Stan J. Van Sant

If your marriage is going through a rough spot right now, you are not alone. It seems like everywhere you turn, people you know are splitting up. Even if things are not that bad for you, there are still tips that can help you improve marriage.

The key way to improving any relationship is improving communication. Every couple on earth can benefit from taking a closer look at their communication patterns. Some things we do not even realize we are doing until we really pay attention.

One aspect of this is to be sure to share your appreciation of the things your partner does that make you happy and help you. We are generally much quicker to criticize than to give praise. But this is important for several reasons.

For one, and this is a common theme to be remembered in your communication, neither of you are probably all that good at reading minds. Hopefully, your spouse wants to please you so you need to give him or her a clue when something done is pleasing to you.

Humans are animals too, and therefore learn better and faster when the right behavior is reinforced and encouraged. We all like hearing praise and we want to have that good feeling again. And it is to your advantage if your partner feels good. First, because you care about them. Also, because it will make them more positive and happy, which in turn makes them far more enjoyable housemates.

All communication needs to be clear. Many times, people complain about partners for because they did not do something. However, if your expectations and needs are not clearly expressed, you cannot fairly blame the other person.

Included in this are your emotional needs as well. You have to accept that these are normal and it is perfectly acceptable to have personal needs in a relationship. Then you have to let your spouse know what those needs are.

For example, many times women feel frustrated that their spouses do not know when they want to be held. But men often do not read those types of signals. Does it really make sense to be upset with them for that? Or does it make more sense to accept that they are going to just get it, and you need to tell them?

Communicating emotional needs is even more difficult for men. Society somehow seems to dictate that it makes them somehow less masculine. But these needs are human and men need to know that is okay to have them. And it will be better for all concerned if they are talked about rather than being kept inside.

When relationships are good, each half will want to please and support the other. Often, all each needs is to have clear direction on how that is best done. With better communication, you can give that direction. And you will probably be very happily surprised at how much more frequently your partner does please and support you.

Some marriages should not be saved. There are relationships where the partners really are not suitable for one another. However, other times, just a little help is needed to improve marriage. Communicating more clearly and more frequently is the best place to start.

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