Maybe your marriage is one where it’s hard to bring up certain subjects, or maybe your marriage is one where you feel like you can talk about anything and everything. John and I have been on both ends of the spectrum, and thankfully we’ve worked hard to stay on the “talk about anything and everything” side! Learning how to be effective communicators will strengthen, sharpen, and deepen your relationship. Especially so after you’ve become parents!
Communication and conversation in marriage should be well-rounded, and should be something that is always being improved on. Perspectives change, especially after life events, and maybe you won’t always see eye to eye on everything. Being able to understand each other, support each other, and get on the same page throughout the seasons is crucial to a thriving and happy relationship!
But getting on that level means embracing open-door communication. This means that you’re allowing an “open-door policy” to become the norm in your marriage — such as learning how to healthily talk about the hard things, laughing together about silly things, bouncing ideas off each other about your dreams and ambitions, having a game plan for the critical things, and being open and honest about how you’re feeling in general.
Below are 5 important things to talk about with your spouse regularly in order to:
– get to know each other better
– deepen your relationship
– open up with each other
– see your marriage in a more realistic light
– see each other’s perspectives
– give each other the benefit of the doubt
– understand where each of you is coming from
– understand each other’s wants, needs, and dreams
– see eye-to-eye and get on the same page
– have better, more flowing, easy-going conversation about anything and everything
– argue less, have less tense conversations, and ease your anxiety about opening up
1. semi-critical/emergency things
You’ve gotta have a game plan for how you’re going to handle certain semi-critical situations as a team. Here are some things you can talk about and do to handle this stuff like pros:
– If only one of you knows how to do car things, have a little “car date day” and teach the other how to do car stuff (checking tire tread, checking the oil, how to change a flat, scheduling oil changes, and jumping a car battery).
– Make an emergency evacuation plan (this might sound boring, but it’s super necessary to be on the same page about how to handle getting out of the house safely, if ever needed. Especially important if you’re in a two story house, or have kids).
– Go on a home-safety kit shopping spree and make an earthquake/wildfire/hurricane/the-power-is-out-for-a-week solution bag (flashlights, extra batteries, candles/matches, water bottles, battery or solar phone charger, mini toiletries, knife, copies of vital documents, camper meals, fire extinguisher, emergency cash stash, etc). I can count on both hands how many times the power has gone out in San Diego due to flooding and earthquakes, and we’ve had more than enough instances of possible evac due to wildfires. Being prepared is way smarter than wishing you were!
– Figure out what to do if one of you experiences car troubles on the road while the other is out of town or unreachable (we have AAA for this reason!)
– Take a CPR class together and get certified to save lives! Especially so if you have kids.
– Take a self defense class together (or go a bit more intense and take Kickboxing, Krav Maga, or any other military fighting-style defense class) and learn how to kick booty if you ever encounter bad guys.
2. your feelings
This one is usually easier for one person over the other, and usually this conversation stems from someone getting hurt and wanting to bring it up to the other. But talking about your feelings is so much more than “you hurt me when..” — it’s leaning on each other when times are hard, when friends get you down, when life throws curveballs, and supporting each other through all the little victories + growing pains of life. Here’s how to get on that level of feels:
– Share your highs and lows from the week. It’s a great way to reflect on the best and worst part of your week by celebrating the highs, and encourage each other about the lows!
– Go on a walk together. John and I went on walks all the time when we lived in Washington, and our conversations went from favorite books to childhood memories to what we wanted for dinner that night. Make nightly walks a priority (or morning walks after breakfast, or on the weekend, or whenever!). Walking allows for you to hold hands, have your arms around each other, point out things you find or see on your walk, and let the conversation just flow.
– Give more praise than you do criticism. People perform at their best in all situations when they are surrounded by encouragement, support, understanding, and tough love. Instead of nagging, or giving the cold shoulder, or critiquing everything…ease back and find things to praise instead. This makes bringing up the hard things easier to handle and hear.
– Find out each other’s love languages. This is important to know in order to get your love tank running on full, instead of on fumes. Because your spouse probably receives love different than you do, it’s smart to figure out their love language through this free test. That way, you can better communicate better understand what each other needs in order to feel appreciated, heard, and loved.
– Change the way you say it. This is something John and I have worked hard on in our marriage. I can totally tell John something in a way that sounds logical to me, but he won’t really get it or appreciate it because I’m not saying it in a way that resonates with how he communicates. And same goes for him to me!
We have had sit downs, arguments, and hand-holding discussions on the couch about effectively communicating our feelings, wants, and needs. It takes time to get it right 100% of the time! We’re not perfect at it, but we’re a lot better at it than we used to be.
Both couples need to be completely open and honest about finances, otherwise you’re going to run into a lot of problems within your marriage. Here are some ways to talk about money and get on the same page without having things get tense:
– Keep each other accountable by setting up a spending tracker spreadsheet/app, where you can see where all your money goes each month.
– Talk about each other’s spending habits. Now this is a touchy one, because it could lead to blame or pointing fingers. That is not the purpose of this conversation! You want to lay on the table everything you both spend money on each month, and reach a solution on how to get it under control. Talking about your spending leads to a better understanding of how to better handle your finances in a healthy, teamwork way. Which leads to my next topic:
– Set a strict budget for each area where you spend each month (movies, shopping, gas, groceries, etc.) and figure out how you both can help each other not go overboard.
– Talk about your future financial goals!!! This is so huge, because it allows you to see the bigger picture of saving/spending money for a specific purpose or life event. Whether it be for a vacation, buying your first home, creating a nest egg/savings chunk for emergencies, or for your kid’s college fund…get on the same page about saving and wise spending so that you can invest in your futures.
– Talk about gift-giving/holiday spending, before those holidays. Designate a realistic, set amount you want to spend and consider downsizing your list — such as gifting one gift per family, instead of doing multiple gifts per person. This could be a fun way for both of you to get to know your families better, too! Or, have a gag gift/gift exchange night – my family does this every year and it’s turned into the highlight of our holidays.
– Reconsider date night spending. Write down your answers to these 3 things: How much do you spend on average every time you go out together? What things do you usually end up doing for date night? How can you spend smarter and save more money, while still making dates fun and exciting?
You’ll probably come up with surprising spending amounts, as well as fun ways to get creative for less-expensive, more quality dates 🙂
4. funny things
If laughter is ever-present in your relationship, I’d say you’re in a pretty good place. Letting your silly side out is the ultimate way to get close, in my opinion! John and I always joke together that we’ve gotten weirder and more silly the longer we’ve been together – and it’s so true. When we first started dating, of course we had a ton of fun together, but we were always conscious about how we looked or acted for fear of “scaring the other person off” haha!
Now that we’ve been together several years, our sense of humor together and ability to laugh at ourselves has completely changed and escalated — we flirt all the time, we have silly dance moves and faces we make to each other, we aren’t afraid of what each other thinks about being weird or dorky, and we’ve racked up an unlimited amount of inside jokes.
So learn to let lose! Be dorky together. Do things that will make each other laugh. Make silly faces to each other. Build forts, eat ice cream for dinner, play tag in the park, go get Chinese takeout and say “in bed!” after you read each other’s fortune cookies. Play Mario Cart, build sand castles at the beach, try new things together, just be yourselves. And the rest of that that can’t-eat, can’t-sleep, reach-for-the-stars, over- the-fence, World Series kind of stuff will come. ❤
5. future things
Do you both want to travel? Do you have plans to buy a house? Do you want to live in this same city/state forever, or are you open to moving? What are each of your personal goals, and do they align with each other? Talking about these things can be hard, especially if one of you has bigger dreams than the other. Or, maybe you both had the same plans but then perspective and ideas changed (as they do over time, since no one stays the same person they were 5 or 10 years ago).
The best way to talk about and plan for your your future is to talk about it TOGETHER, regularly. Something John and I have done several times in our years of being together is lay down on our stomachs in the living room with a notepad and pens and make lists of our future hopes and dreams TOGETHER. We would sketch out our dream house layout, how we wanted our future to look together, and all the things we wanted to do together until then.
Notice how I keep saying “together” ? That’s the most important part of future planning — doing it openly, side by side, on the same page, and talking about it openly. If you both plan how you want your future to look individually, you’re going to encounter friction and tension later down the road when your future plans start to go their own directions.
It’s important to remember that people change over the years, and your 5 year plan might be different now than it was when you made it. Here’s how to handle future planning together in stride:
– Make a list together, instead of separate lists. That way you both can reference it and make changes or talk about things as time goes on, so there’s no surprises. And, dreaming together is more fun than dreaming by yourself!
– Have a backup plan. If a job is holding you back, or if you no longer feel the same about a certain goal, talk openly about it with your spouse and make sure you’re both on the same page. Each of you is allowed to have your own opinions and desires, and your personal goals may not always align! But if you have a more serious dream or goal, make sure to create a backup plan for that specific one in case it doesn’t pan out the way you had originally hoped.
– Be flexible and roll with the punches. Life happens, things come up, and your future plans may see a set back. It’s important to keep a positive outlook and attitude in these cases, and know that no matter what happens or where you end up, you’ve got each other and that’s what matters most 🙂
If you made it through this post, congrats! You’re officially on your way to a happier, healthier, thriving marriage. There are plenty of important topics I didn’t touch on in this post, so if you’d like to share one, please drop it in the comments below! Xo
If you haven’t done it yet, sign up for my newsletter!
You’ll be the first to know about blog posts, AND
have exclusive access to subscribers-only freebies like
my Healthy + Easy Meal Planing Guide, Staple Recipes for Busy
Mamas, and tips on making your space – no matter if it’s a
mini apartment or a bigger house – feel like home.