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How to Communicate Better in Your Marriage

Questioner

Anonymous

Reply Date

Oct 13, 2018

Question

Assalamu aleikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh. I've been married for four years now. This is my second marriage, polygamous in nature. Being in my second marriage, I've learnt that this is an institution that requires patience and active effort to make things work. However, communication between my spouse and I turns out to be a defense taking session. He says that I complain over unimportant issues. I feel like I'm working alone for the success of the bond in that when there's an issue to be resolved between us, I have to bring it up even if it means staying cold with each other for days. When I bring it up, he points out that he felt I needed space and that's why he didn't initiate any talk. This happens all the time which feels more like lack of seriousness rather than space.

Counselor

Answer


How to Communicate Better in Your Marriage

In this counseling answer:

“Rather than you both playing guessing games, be clear. If you want him to speak to you let him know, “I want to speak with you when you are ready. I am hurt by our conversation yesterday and I’d like us to work through it so we can be connected again.” Then, instead of him imagining you need space, you told him what you needed. And now you give him a chance to respond when he is ready. ”


As-Salamu ‘Aleikom,

You are right that marriage is an institution that requires a lot of patience. Anytime you have two human beings coming together issues will pop up along the way which will need to be addressed in one way or another.

Addressing the “non” issues

 

It’s not uncommon for one spouse to think the other is making a mountain out of a molehill. What’s really important to one person may not be something worth considering or worrying about for another.

In this situation, it can be helpful for you to say, “It’s important for me” without needing to justify the reason why something matters to you.

If he were to respond with a phrase like, “this is a small thing and you are making a big deal out of it, “ stick with the line, “it’s important to me.”

At some point, the goal is that he will then inquire as to why something matters too much to you.

And yes, this is a two-way street. For you to show importance to the little things that matter to your husband is an equal invitation for him to care about the little things that matter to you. But ignored little things can escalate quickly into bigger problems when they are not paid attention to.

The message one spouse gets is “If I was important they would care about what is bothering me.” I imagine you may have had this feeling before.

On the other hand, it has happened, especially with women that I’ve worked with, that I find a wife who complains about a lot of things that aren’t really that significant but she is doing it because it’s the only way she can get husband’s attention. Or they fight about smaller things as a way to ignore the more important issues they don’t want to face.

I would ask you to consider the things which are upsetting you to qualify them.

For example, a woman is upset because her husband didn’t bring home milk when she asked him to pick up some on his way home from work. This could be a small issue. He simply forgot.

But she could make it a much bigger one if she translates his forgetfulness to mean he doesn’t value her needs and doesn’t care about her. Then the argument because more heated. No one is seeing eye to eye. He thinks they are arguing about the milk but she is arguing about something much deeper than that.

The truth is that since they got married she has been feeling insecure. She doubts whether or not he truly loves her or not and the only way she knows how to measure his love is whether or not he pays attention to the small things she asks of him.

Ask for What You Want


Rather than you both playing guessing games, be clear. If you want him to speak to you let him know, “I want to speak with you when you are ready. I am hurt by our conversation yesterday and I’d like us to work through it so we can be connected again.”

Then, instead of him imagining you need space, you told him what you needed. And now you give him a chance to respond when he is ready.

The only way you can feel that he is making an effort to nurture the bond between the two of you is to back up and give him a chance to respond to you but only after you’ve made it clear what you need.

Instead of assuming he isn’t serious, assume that he simply doesn’t know what to do better.

Men do not come hardwired to know what a woman wants and needs. As much as we think things should be super obvious to them – it’s not.

Add in Positives


In place of the negatives, look for ways to add in more positive connections. Do you both go out together? Share something you can enjoy with one and other?

It’s really important to increase the number of positive comments and positive experiences to counterbalance the negatives. All relationships have tension at one point in time or another, but the positives are what strengthen the bond between both people.

Consider ways to enjoy more of your time together and plan for that.

Marriage is Part of the Test

Marriage, like life, is a part of our test. No one has ever said that marriage was going to be easy. The challenge is finding the patience to work through uncomfortable feelings and experiences with your spouse. 
It takes time for two people to get to know one and other and establish an understanding of each other and learn how to take care of each other’s needs.

Your husband will need to get “trained” on how to understand you and what’s important to you and you’ll need to be “trained” the same about him. Somewhere in the middle is a compromise which supports both of you.

Where many couples get stuck is that they spend their time pointing their fingers at each other saying what the other person is doing wrong. What creates a positive shift is asking the question, “What can I do better right now?” This open up solutions.

To find it, there must be a willingness to keep communicating with each other and keep at it while equally trying to avoid falling into anger or speaking disrespectfully to one and other.

“And obey Allah and His Messenger, and do not dispute and [thus] lose courage and [then] your strength would depart; and be patient. Indeed, Allah is with the patient.” (8:46)

Despite the days of silence, it sounds like he is willing to speak with you – you both just need a better way to understand each other.

Give him the benefit of the doubt for a while. Assuming the best of his character and his heart will diminish some of the negative feelings that you have from him.

Instead of seeing someone who is intentionally not being serious about the marriage, you will see a flawed man unsure of what to next. Thoughts like this can soften your heart, soften your speech, and then help you both connect and communicate with your hearts instead of your egos.

If possible, consider taking an online marriage course to offer more insight into communication patterns between the both of you.

If he we reading this too, I would equally advise him to look at you as a person who is not attempting to create problems or complain about unimportant things. I would want to help him understand that you are speaking to him is because you want to connect to him and build a loving relationship where you both find comfort and ease with each other.

A woman’s path of complaining is often her attempt to build a marriage where she can open her heart fully and trust she’ll be taken care of by her husband.

I pray you can find some inspiration here that will lead you to a small but positive change in how you communicate with your husband.

May Allah reward you for your patience and sincerity in striving to build a strong bond and marriage.

Salam,

***

Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

Read more:

First Year of Marriage: Is It Complicated?

Communication, the Most Important Skill in a Marriage

Communication Problems in My Intercultural Marriage




About Megan Wyatt

Megan Wyatt is the founder of Wives of Jannah (http://wivesofjannah.com/) where she offers training programs, live workshops, and relationship coaching for wives and couples. She is a certified Strategic Intervention coach with specialized certifications for working with women and marital relationships and has been coaching and mentoring Muslims globally since 2008. She shares her passion for Islamic personal development in her Passionate Imperfectionist community (https://www.facebook.com/CoachMeganWyatt/). She is a wife and homeschooling mother with four children residing in Southern California.

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