[Image: ‘We Still Do’ Anniversary Cake by Simply Divine Occasions]
So I’ve already given away the secret in the title: if you want to have a great marriage, you need great communication. But how do you achieve that? And what do I know about a great marriage? The truth is, I haven’t been married that long yet, but I have been blessed with great examples of long-lasting marriages in both my parents (married for over 30 years) and my grandparents (married for over 50 years). In both of these examples, the foundation has been evident: communication. Let me tell you what I have learnt about it.
Great communication takes time.
1. Great communication doesn’t happen overnight.
If you are hoping to meet someone and immediately have easy and open communication, I’m sorry to tell you that it doesn’t really work that way. However, if you’re thinking that you didn’t start out with easy communication, and it’s still challenging at times, I’m here to tell you that that’s okay! And not just okay, but normal. Great communication takes time. It takes effort, intentionality, and trust. You aren’t likely to start out that way, but with time you can build all of these things, and develop an easy and honest communication approach with your partner.
[Image: My parents on their wedding day in 1990]
2. Great communication takes trust.
In order to communicate easily with someone, you need to trust them. You want to feel like you can say anything to them, and it will be heard, respected, and taken in the spirit in which it was intended (or sometimes with added grace and understanding, like when we say things we don’t really mean). Again, trust is built over time, and with mutual respect and honesty. If you are marrying someone, and plan to spend your lives together, then you need that respect and honesty, so you can trust them. If one of you has to walk around on eggshells, or is constantly giving up their needs or wants for the other, you won’t be able to build a solid partnership together. Instead, you will build resentment.
You need to be able to hold space for your partner.
3. Great communication is about listening.
Not only do you need to be assertive and express yourself openly and honestly, but you need to be ready to listen, and hear whatever your partner wants to say. This may look like listening till the end of their monologue, or asking thoughtful questions. It might include putting aside your own feelings for a time, to hear what they need first (don’t forget to come back to your needs and process your emotions later). You will need to be able to hold space for your partner, and be encouraging and supportive when they need it. Good listening also requires that you believe the best of your partner, and interpret everything through the filter of the things you love and appreciate about them.
[Image: My grandparents on their wedding day in 1963]
4. Great communication depends on wholeness.
Now I’m not saying that you need to be perfect, or 100% amazing, or your ‘true self’ to be good at communication. But you do need to be on that path, journeying towards your best self; open to growth and intentional about self-improvement. If you come into your partnership expecting your partner to fix everything for you, to be your saviour, or to make everything better, you will always find them lacking. But if you know that you, and your partner, are both on the journey together, and have grace and patience with one another, you will have the chance of a lasting marriage.
You have the rest of your marriage to work on it!
According to my parents and grandparents, if you keep these things in mind, you will develop great communication. And with that great communication, you will have a great marriage. Just remember, this is all a process – but thankfully you have the rest of your marriage ahead of you to work on it!
Until the next time x
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