This Tip is Worth Exactly $4,678.89 in Paid Sessions with the Best Life Coaches:
This may be the simplest technique for improving your marriage communication skill that has ever been offered by life coaches or therapists.
Life Coaches’ Tip: Use a simple numeric scale to communicate your needs and wants and to listen to the needs and wants of your spouse.
What do married couples fight about? Money, parenting decisions, sex, home repair and improvement and the list goes on. But few arguments are as emotionally charged as ones that involve a clash between between husband and wife over parenting decisions.
Communication Skill: The Need to be Clear and Brief
In coaching couples for more satisfying relationships, it often strikes me how often we all understate how important something is to us. We express an opinion about something we want and then feel slighted if our spouse doesn’t jump on a particular task immediately. But supposing that your spouse thought you were just thinking out loud? He or she might not be very responsive simply because you didn’t make it clear how important the idea was to you. Let’s take an example:
“I’ve been thinking about starting our daughter on piano lessons and holding off on the soccer.”
From the wording of this comment, it could mean a lot of things even if we don’t consider the tone and volume of voice, the setting, and whether or not there is eye-contact (not to mention whether or not it was spoken from across the room). Let’s do some translating. Here are some possible meanings a wife could have by making the comment above:
- Meaning #1: “I know I have never mentioned it before, but I think music is just as important as athletics for our kids.”
- Meaning #2: “I’ve made a decision. I feel strongly that our daughter should take piano lessons this year instead of being consumed by soccer.”
- Meaning #3: “Have you ever wondered if our daughter really isn’t interested in soccer?”
- Meaning #4: “I would never want our daughter to quit soccer, knowing how much she loves it. But sometimes I wish she had an a little more interest in music.”
- Meaning #5: “Honey, I want to just float an idea past you. What would you think if we started our daughter on piano lessons instead of jumping in to the soccer scene this year. She seems to have a real passion for music.”
- Meaning #6: “I am sick and tired of having our weekends consumed by soccer. I’m simply not willing to do that again.”
As you can see, the simple comments that we make to each other may have a variety of meanings to our spouse, especially when we factor in previous discussions about the topic, your spouses mood, and how rushed for time your spouse feels as he “listens.” Do you even have your spouses full attention when you say it? Perhaps all your husband heard was “sick and tired,” or “I’m simply not willing…” blah, blah, blah.
A Simple Solution That Improves Your Communication Skill
Using a simple numeric scale helps with both speaking more clearly and clarifying what your spouse is trying to say to you. In our example above, the husband might be casually listening while doing something else. He might wrongly assume that his wife is just thinking out loud. But to be sure he asks, “So, on a scale from 1 to 10, how important are the piano lessons to you?” When his wife response with “9,” he instantly knows that he would be wise to ask some more questions and give her his full attention as soon as he is able.
Coming at from the other direction, the wife might feel that her husband is not taking her seriously. She could then say, “You know, I’ve given this a lot of thought and I think on a scale of importance from 1 to 10 I would give the piano lessons a 9.” Of course, we don’t know what the husband will do with that. But the wife can know that she has made herself crystal clear: she isn’t going to let this go.
In some ways, this is all part of taking responsibility for what we communicate and also for how effectively we listen. It takes just a few seconds and it can save you from hundreds of unnecessary arguments and hurt feelings.