Learning how to have better communication with your husband begins with learning how to self-regulate and manage your own energy, so you don’t get hooked by his fear.
In episode 10 of The Authentic Wife Show, I talk about why we fight and argue and seem to never get anywhere in our marriages, especially over heated topics.
The biggest problem with the way we communicate now
If you’ve been to a marriage counselor or therapist, they might want you to start learning communication techniques right away, but these don’t get to the root of the issue. My Happily Ever After marriage coaching program clients don’t even work on communication skills until the sixth month of my program because the hardest part of effective communication is the energy that we have underneath what we’re saying.
We’re coming to the other person with whatever our emotional hygiene is that day. If we’ve already been triggered by something or we’re already depleted because we didn’t get enough sleep, or we drank too much coffee, or someone we know has passed away, and there’s something else that we haven’t already attended to, then our conversations are not going to be as effective as they could be if we had taken care of our emotional hygiene that day.
If we were coming to each other from this beautiful blank slate that’s operating from this place of love, we would have better communication with our husbands.
What’s happening, the biggest problem with the way we communicate now, is that we’re not even aware that our energy is matching theirs.
We match their fear
When they go into fear, we go into fear. We match the energy first. It’s less about what we think and more about how we drop into that same energy with them.
If they say something and we can stay in a place of love, we can see that it’s their own fears, and we could then work with that with empathy. But instead, most of the time we aren’t even aware that our body matches their fear, then it creates a story. We drop into fear and find a story to match it.
We go defense to defense
We both end up on the defense the whole time, and no one gets anywhere. We want to be right, be proven correct. We go into ego frequency. I share the story about how I wanted to get a new boxer dog and my husband didn’t, and instead of planting seeds, I jumped right to saying that I’d made a plan and was getting the puppy. But then when my husband went into fear, I matched him there instead of meeting him with empathy because I hadn’t done my emotional hygiene before this conversation.
When we are able to stay in an authentic place, this energy of love and not fear, then we can truly listen to their needs and express ours. Or even stay at planting the seed instead of trying to change another person’s mind instantly.
If I had been in a great place, where my tank was full, then I wouldn’t have matched him there. Instead, I can hear what’s really happening. From a place of love, I can hear the little boy inside who’s scared. I can hear how he wants to get his needs met and be heard and be understood.
When we’re self-regulated and self-parented, we can hear what the motivations are underneath what they’re saying. We can get to the real thing below the words you’re saying and have better communication with our husbands.
Communication in marriage is hard because we’re together 24/7
Marriage is tricky because you’re literally together most of the time, you see each other at your worst, and there are times that are not good for conversation. There are times when you are both triggered, when life is stressful, when kids are sick, parents are ill, dogs poop on the carpet, the bank account is low, there are so many fires that we put out. In a marriage we see all those emotionally heightened moments where we’re not operating at our best.
And when we’re not coming from that best place, it’s so easy to have a fight. it’s so easy to feel misunderstood. And it’s really sad to me that then we say that well he’s just not the one I’m going to go find somebody else.
We really hold our husbands or wives to this standard that we don’t even hold ourselves to. We want them to be happy, agreeable, perfect people all the time and you can’t live with somebody 24/7 and see happy, agreeable all the time, because we’re human and life is messy and it’s hard and we’re going through challenging times together.
And by the way is our planet burning up, and are there aliens, and what is going on out in the rest of the world, and why are they talking about what to do if there’s a nuclear bomb over New York… there’s so much going on all the time. And that is where those communication breakdowns happen, and it’s less about a lack of communication skill as it is about a lack of that daily emotional hygiene. And taking the time for ourselves to get back to a place where our tank is full and we feel happy and aligned and safe and comfortable and able to work with the messiness of another human being.
There is no world where you can find somebody and live with them and go through the messiness of life and it always be perfect.
I think the real gift is to see the truth of that and be able to have grace or compassion that your spouse is not always going to be a perfect, 100% version of themselves. It’s just not going to happen. So you can have the awareness in those moments that this is really not about me. It’s not personal. It’s not the end.
Focus on making a conversation mutually beneficial rather than getting the outcome you want
Detach from the outcome of that one conversation to start having better communication with your husband. Know its’ not the end. You don’t have to get divorced from this guy to go get the thing you want. But you do need to be honest and find a way to work together. Remember that that conversation was one conversation and that it’s. You’re going to discuss things together for the rest of your lives. People change their minds, people get persuaded, people can accept that you’re not going to change and you’re going to do the things that light you up, and if other people are being unreasonable, then they’re going to experience you doing the thing that you want to do anyway.
The energy beneath the communication is more important than anything else. Have that awareness that you don’t have to match somebody else’s fear. And you’re going to get further in the conversation if you don’t match it.
But if you do, then love yourself, and remember that you’re human and tomorrow is another day.
It’s better to have that awareness that you started down that path and just end it. If you see yourself doing it, just let it go, let it drop, and revisit it another day.
Stop shaming with “When you __, I feel ___”
Sometimes therapists or even me in the past (I’m so sorry!), will tell their client or patient to go to their spouse and say something like, “When you do this, or when you blank, I feel blank.” And the problem with that is that we end up making the other person responsible for our triggers, responsible for what is actually bothering us. For either a boundary we haven’t been willing to hold or a wound from our past that we haven’t been willing to look at.
So I don’t agree with doing that. Let’s pretend that my husband yelled at me. I wouldn’t come back to him later and say, “When you yelled at me, I felt disrespected.” Instead, in the moment, I would say, “It’s unacceptable to yell at me. I’m going to walk away until you’re ready to talk calmly.” It’s my responsibility to hold that boundary in the moment.
We can make someone self-aware with an empathetic observation of what someone’s truly feeling, “I’m a little concerned. When you shared this earlier, it seems like you don’t trust me. It seems like you don’t really value my opinion.” That’s different than making somebody responsible for how we’re feeling in the moment. That gets us further. That’s information we can use.
When someone comes at us with an “when you BLANK I feel BLANK” they’re trying to make us responsible for their triggers, their emotions. It’s more of a shaming move. It’s not going to move the relationship forward like you want it to. It’s the opposite of how to have better communication with your husband.
It’s a terrible thing to do to your kids, so I wouldn’t do it to your husband or wife either. We’d never go to our kids and say, “When you told me you didn’t love me, it made me feel sad and unappreciated.” You’re dealing with a kid! So you don’t make them responsible for your emotions. You just say, “Oh you don’t love me? Ok why, let’s talk about that, I don’t want you to feel like you don’t love me.” There’s some kind of need for you to explore.
He’s mirroring your inability to be empathetic
One of the biggest complaints I hear from my clients is that their husband doesn’t listen to them, doesn’t understand them, doesn’t meet them with the emotional care that they want. And all he’s doing is mirroring our inability to listen to him, our inability to hold space for his emotions.
When you’re at a stalemate with a conversation or he’s coming to you with complaints or not on board or something, he’s asking you to listen to him with empathy. You’re trying to help him figure out what the need is underneath what he’s saying. Then you can move the conversation forward.
But it’s hard to do that until you’ve done the emotional hygiene, the inner work, and you know what your triggers, your wounds are, your inner child needs, how to self-parent yourself, how to do self-care, how to change those old conditioned beliefs about your worth and who you really are. It’s a process! It’s a beautiful, glorious process. You get very intimate with who you really are so you actually know what do I want, what do I need, what do I want to convey to this person, what am I sensing from them, what am I sensing from myself? Can I even hold space for myself? Can I understand what I want? Or am I in denial about what’s going on?
The truth with the puppy is that I was trying to pretend that responsibilities and circumstances didn’t exist and go for it anyway. I have to be honest with myself, and he was making me be honest, and I didn’t want it. I wanted him to live in denial land with me.
The key is to recognize when we go down to fear and take care of ourselves and go back to getting curious so you can understand him and he can understand you.
Only from a place of empathy can we help them process the trigger or emotion beneath what they’re saying. Most communication issues come down to wanting to be understood but not wanting to understand.
To discover how your spouse having ADHD can affect your marriage and what you can do about it, please read this. If you’re struggling to get your husband to help around the house and feeling underwater, ADHD is probably a great thing to look at seriously.
You can start to change your communication style in your marriage by downloading my 30 Texts to End His Resistance and Get More Help to learn how to start getting more help day-to-day and have better communication with your husband.
This way of asking for help appeals directly to this smart, problem-solving brain and inspires more support than making a specific request.
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