In their book, 10 Lessons to Transform Your Marriage (Crown Publishers, 2006), John M. Gottman and Julie Schwartz Gottman state that research has shown that one of the best things a couple can do for their marriage is develop a habit of conversing daily. This should be a time to catch up on what is happening in each other’s lives and show interest, friendship and support to each other.
Set a Time for Conversation
This is a deliberate act where spouses make a decision to talk to each other at a certain of time of day. Depending on schedules, it could be over breakfast or dinner or when walking the dog after work. The important thing is to set a time and allow 15 to 30 minutes to listen to and concentrate on each other.
People function well within the framework of routine and if conversation becomes a daily ritual, it will become something that is easy to maintain. Couples may find that they enjoy it so much that communication begins to flow more naturally at other times during the day as well.
Eliminate Distractions From Conversation Times
It is best to plan the conversation time for a time of day when distractions are few. For couples with children, this may be later in the evening when their offspring are in bed. Other distractions to avoid include the following:
- Television playing in the background
- Computers on in the background
- Phone calls
- Sitting in a messy room
- Loud music
With distractions out of the way, husband and wife can concentrate on each other and have a meaningful conversation.
Learn the Skills of a Successful Conversation
In most marriages, one partner is more talkative than the other. When engaging in conversation it is important that both spouses have time to talk and express feelings and opinions. Here are some tips for developing stimulating and meaningful conversation:
- Ask questions and listen to the answers with genuine interest.
- Use good eye contact and appropriate body language to show interest.
- Communicate with understanding and empathy.
- Inject emotions into the conversation.
- Celebrate a partner’s successes and achievements with him.
- Offer support in difficult situations.
- Side with the spouse in situations of conflict with another person.
- Help with problem solving after showing understanding.
Good conversation skills can strengthen a marriage and draw spouses closer to each other. It is important to make time and space to converse daily and eliminate possible distractions. As partners talk regularly and work on their communication skills, the benefits for their marriage will be enormous.