Men and women communicate very differently. Most of us know that, but we often don’t know how to overcome those barriers with our spouse. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to communication that will work for every couple, but there are some tips that can help you communicate better to move through conflict with your spouse, and sometimes even avoid it altogether.

The Weekend to Remember conference certainly helped me learn how to communicate better with my husband. After being married for four years, I’ve learned that my husband and I communicate very differently. We also have extremely different personalities to add to the mix.

For example, my husband grew up in a loud family—not just shout at the TV during football kind of loud, but loud in the way they expressed their opinions, loud in the way they fought, and loud in the way they loved. There’s nothing quiet about his family. But my family was quite the opposite. In fact, I never saw my parents fight simply because they chose to ignore conflict instead of talk about it.

Once my husband and I got married, we realized that our childhoods, our current personalities, and our expectations for communication were entirely different. It spelled disaster, but we’ve learned to overcome these challenges and find a better way to communicate with one another. Here are a few tips we learned at the Weekend to Remember. Sometimes, doing these things can prevent a fight. Other times, it helps us move through that fight to the other side—reconciliation.

1. Listen well.

I think we spend a lot of time talking at people and not truly listening to what they have to say back. In the course of my marriage, I’ve found myself preparing to respond to my husband in an argument instead of truly listening to what he has to say. Other times I become more focused on the tone of his voice or the way he says something, instead of honestly hearing the content of his heart.

If you stop and listen without letting anger or other emotions overrule your thoughts, it’s a whole lot easier to soften your heart and hear what your spouse has to say.

2. Don’t accuse.

When we’re mad, it’s really easy to accuse someone of doing harm to us. But if we pause and explain to someone how a situation hurt us or how we perceived it, rather than accusing them of intentionally harming us, we might realize that many arguments are based on misunderstanding or overreactions.

Instead of starting with “you,” try starting these kinds of conversations with “I” statements. For example, instead of telling your husband, “You never help out around the house,” try saying, “I’m feeling overwhelmed and I could really use some help. Will you please take out the trash?” You’ll find yourself communicating the root of the issue to your spouse instead of accusing him or her.

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3. Forgive.

Most important, if you forget every other tool in your communication toolbox, always remember to forgive. As a Christian, it’s important to first seek the Lord and ask Him for forgiveness. Next, it’s important to seek forgiveness from your spouse.

In most situations, a fight or communication breakdown takes two, so you probably have something to ask forgiveness for. Always remember that true forgiveness, and granting of that forgiveness, is a biblical command, but it is also a cure for the heart. If you and your spouse can frequently forgive one another (because believe me, you’ll mess up more than once!), then you can have a marriage that will stand through thick and thin.

Once you begin to practice these communication tools in your own marriage, you’ll begin to see that miscommunication happens far less. You will begin to understand one another. Instead of assuming that your spouse meant to hurt you or didn’t care, you will begin to recognize his or her heart. Better communication will always bring you closer to your spouse and it will minimize conflict in your life.

Another important point that struck us at the Weekend to Remember conference was that conflict begins to minimize when we actively bless one another in marriage. If we can be kind, sympathetic, and humble to our spouse, and speak to them in loving words, we begin to resemble Jesus to our spouses. We begin to live as peacemakers, not troublemakers. We begin to recognize our spouse for the child of God they are, instead of someone who likes to fight with us.

Communication in marriage is not easy. But the fight to communicate well will always be worth the hard work. In the end, you will find a thriving marriage that is rooted in oneness, not division.

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