Do You Think Your Marriage has a Communication Problem?

2 minutes to read

Having been away from their spouse for up to a year, most of the sailors coming through WTP recognize the challenge posed by reconnecting. Even with tools like Facetime and Skype, distance develops. Wives and husbands at home take on new roles. Deployers’ lives gain new dimensions. Often they can’t talk about how they came about. Bridging this gap taxes everyone’s patience…

How to Ensure You Connect with Your Spouse

Communication Isn't the Issue

Many of the sailors I work with are having trouble coping with their spouses. They’re not home yet. But some are already locked in a power struggle. An issue has become contentious. Now they’re trying to convince their spouse they’re correct.

Whatever connection they had begins to deteriorate or is lost. They assume communication is the problem. They want advice or tips to better deal with this issue. But in many cases, they’re communicating well.

The real issues are commitment and perception. Having been apart for so long, each spouse feels like an individual rather than half of a marriage. As well, they don’t have the visual clues and shared experiences that support understanding. Such deterioration is inevitable. And because it happens over time, you won't notice the change.

Words get filtered through perceptions. You can say something five different ways. But that may not change how your spouse perceives it. Until you both recalibrate perspectives, understanding will remain elusive.

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Research shows that communication skills do not predict marriage satisfaction. (Think about all the counselors who get divorced.) When reconnecting, start by revitalizing your commitment. Then reset your perceptions.

3 Steps to Reconnecting with Your Spouse

"We-ness” best predicts a satisfying marriage. Couples who view their marriage as a joint endeavor solve issues better. They also enjoy time together more. Use this process for reconnecting:

1. Prepare. Listen to how you refer to you and your spouse. Do say “you and me”? Changing the pronoun to “we” will make a big difference in your reunion.

2. Renew. Commitment forms the foundation of your marriage. With your spouse, plan a tangible way to reaffirm your bond. It needn’t be a second honeymoon or expensive event. Go somewhere special where you can be alone. Send the kids to a friend's house and spend time at home just the two of you. Don’t plan on sex. If the mood’s right it will happen.

3. Rebuild. Talk about each other’s experiences while you were gone. Strive to understand what your spouse has been through. Ask questions about how your spouse felt during an event. There may be things you can't tell your partner. Is it a matter of OPSEC or do they make you feel too vulnerable? Rebuild the touch points of accurate perceptions.

If you follow this process communication should take care of itself.

Before discussing solutions, understand the why behind what your spouse is saying and doing.

Separation makes the heart grow fonder. But it strains commitment and perceptions. Rebuild them and you’ll regain your marriage.

Who can you partner with to train for your transition?

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© , Kevin S. Bemel, All Rights Reserved

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