A healthy marriage is one that consists of healthy communication, where both husbands and wives can express what is going on for them in the most effective and healthiest of ways – a marriage where spouses can say what is on their mind or in their heart in a way that honour the other person.
Here are 12 different ways that you can have healthy conversations with your spouse, ensuring you can create a relationship that is filled with love and respect.
When you discuss things with your spouse, try to focus on the positive. Remember, the mind doesn’t understand the negative – if I told you to NOT think of a little yellow rubber duck what would you immediately think of?
Take a look at the difference between these two sets of words:
I’m feeling upset
Why are you always so negative?
You always end up messing things up.
I’m sick of this.
I want to feel happy.
I would appreciate it if you could be more positive.
Could you try your best?
I really want things to change.
What do you think would be the effect of saying the positive words over the negative words?
Try it and see!
So many of us bottle things in and then either explode outwardly, or implode inwardly, resulting in illness and dis-ease. Look for more opportunities to discuss things rather than only talking about your issues and concerns. If you have a lot to work through, perhaps schedule, say, Saturday mornings to go out for breakfast, or perhaps a weekly evening walk, and talk through difficult topics. Discuss things wisely, and often.
How often have we put off things we dislike doing? How often have we avoided garden/car work, clearing up the cupboard under the stairs, re-starting our exercise programmes? Difficult conversations, especially ones that involve possible (or probable!) conflict, are no different.
It is natural to avoid things that will bring us discomfort, so don’t be surprised if your spouse avoids difficult conversations. Here’s a tip to make sure those conversations go ahead – diarise them! Make an appoint with your spouse to have a meeting regarding the issue. Let them know what the conversation will be about so they can mentally and emotionally be prepared for it. Reminding them a day before the appointment so they can keep it in mind.
The Cherished approach is to wisely balance when to discussing things. Sometimes it may be wiser to stay quiet for the moment, at other times it may be important to talk about things sooner rather than later.
- If you feel overwhelmed, wait a day or two – or three! Wait until you are ready to talk.
- If you really need to talk about it, but aren’t ready emotionally, choose someone else other than your spouse who can listen to you and advise you – perhaps a close friend or a coach.
- Make an appointment with your spouse to talk about your issues, and remind them on the morning of your appointment
- If at any point either of you get overwhelmed or tired of the discussion, agree to come back to it another time, perhaps in a few days.
- If you don’t come to a resolution by the end of the conversation, agree to discuss it further, later.
When discussing things with your spouse, connect to your purpose – why is it important that you have this conversation with them?
Could it be that:
- You want to discuss your children so you can raise them in the best of ways, so you can fulfil your duty as a parent
- You want to talk about the finances as you want the family to be provided for on the best of ways
- You need to discuss the effect that extended family is having on your wellbeing, so you don’t feel anxious on the weekends and can show up as the best version of yourself instead
When you find out the positive intention to the reason you want to have a conversation with your spouse, connect to worship by doing this, you can do everything purposefully:
- Being a good parent and raising good children, as an act of worship
- Providing for the family as an act of worship
- Being the best version of yourself as an act of worship
And then pray for it!
- Call upon Al Rahman, the merciful to give you what it takes to be a good parent
- Call upon Ar Razaq, The Provider, to help you to provide for your family
- Call upon An Nur and Al Hadi, The Guide and Light, to guide you towards being the best you can be.
When communicating with your spouse, connect to The Messenger of Allah ﷺ and ask yourself, what would he ﷺ do in this situation? Is there something you know about his life that you can emulate? Is there something you know that he said that you can put into practice?
- Perhaps you can control your anger
‘The strong person is not the powerful wrestler.
Rather the strong person is the one that controls his anger.’
- Ensure you don’t hurt your spouse with your words
‘A Muslim is the one from whose hands and tongue other Muslims are safe.’
- Remove yourself from the situation if you feel upset
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said to us: When one of you becomes angry while standing, he should sit down. If the anger leaves him, well and good; otherwise, he should lie down.
Abu Dawud (4782)
- Speak with love and humour to lighten the situation
An old woman came to The Messenger of Allah ﷺ and made a request, ‘O Messenger of Allah make Dua that Allah grants me entrance into Jannah.’
He replied, O Mother, an old woman cannot enter Jannah. That woman started crying and began to leave. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, Say to the woman that one will not enter in a state of old age, but Allah will make all the women of Jannah young virgins. Allah, most high, says, Lo! We have created them a (new) creation and made them virgins, lovers, equal in age.
Ash-Shama’il Al-Muhammadiyah 239
A person requested from The Messenger of Allah ﷺ that he be given something to travel on. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ replied, ‘The baby of a camel shall be given to you.’ The person said, ‘What shall I do with the baby of a camel O Messenger of Allah?’
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ replied, ‘Every camel is the baby of a camel’
Ash-Shama’il Al-Muhammadiyah 237
Often, when we discuss things, we can end up ‘crashing’ in our emotions. Here’s what tends to happen:
- C – when we hear/see/feel something that upsets us, we immediately contract
- R – we react to what has just happened
- A – we begin to analyse what our spouse has said and done
- S – we start to separate from them, emotional and verbally
- H – we end up hurting and hating – we ‘CRASH’.
Instead, we can consciously choose to stay in a ‘COACH’ state:
- C – when you hear/see/feel something that upsets us, centre on what’s important to you and spouse
- O – Open your heart so you can be your best self, and open your mind so you are aware of different points of view
- A – Be aware of your needs and also the needs of your spouse
- C – Stay connected to Allah, His Messenger ﷺ , your resources and all the good your spouse has
- H – Hold what emerges from the interaction, focus on all positive outcomes, and hold the negative outcomes too
Keep your conversations on topic – otherwise there maybe too many issues to resolve at any one time. And choose those topics carefully – ask yourself, is this really important to discuss? Prioritise your issues in order of importance. For example, if you are upset with your spouse over the finances, then don’t make a big deal over
Use ‘I’ statements instead of making it all about them. The Cherished approach is to use the six sentence starters, five of which are all about you, and the last one is on making a request. Here are some examples – see how you could apply them to your marriage.
I want – e.g. I want to go on holiday
I feel – e.g. I feel upset after our last discussion
I can’t – e.g. I can’t go to work today
It’s important to me that- e.g. It is important to me that I don’t have anyone over this weekend
I need – e.g. I need to work on my work deadline this evening
I would love it if you could… – e.g. I would love it if you could take care of the children this evening
Check your body language…! Often, we say all the right things but the way we say it, or the way we are looking at our spouse can undo all the good that our wise choice of words have! See how these words could sound differently accordingly to how we said them:
- I really appreciate your help
- I don’t mind if you watch TV tonight
- Thanks for letting me know that you are going to be late.
How easy it is to say the wrong thing! Trust me, I do it myself, often. I remember when the lockdown started, and my husband went to Costco to buy some things for the house. In the evening he told me that the queue had been as long as the permitter of the massive car park. I couldn’t believe it, as I had never experienced queues for shops that long. So, I said to him ‘you should have just left it and come home!’ Jawad was so upset! He told me that he had spent all that time in the queue and instead of being grateful, I told him he shouldn’t have bothered. Oops! He was right, of course! I could have used that opportunity to thank him profusely and not asked him to go next time.
So, what did I do? I apologised. I let him know that I really did appreciate it, and it was wrong of me to say what I did – he didn’t deserve that.
When we apologise often, we let our spouse know that we do care about them, and that we appreciate and respect them, and sometimes we fall in our standards.
No matter how many conversations we have, no matter how many times the same issues keep coming up, keep starting afresh. Give yourself and your spouse the importance you both deserve. Keep working at your relationship, it’s the biggest investment you may ever make.
I know you can do this!
Find Out More
Communication is the habit that we are cultivating in the month of December in the Cherished Seasons course, where we spend each month cultivating one habit from The Four Traits of a Cherished Muslimah. If you would like to nourish your life or relationships in a way that gains you Allah’s love, then come and join us!
I help Muslim women to achieve a life of intimacy and fulfilment. Book a FREE discovery call with me today, and let’s see if I can help you to create more love, respect and satisfaction in your life and relationships. Here’s where to book.
Thanks for reading!