How to communicate with your spouse

  • by kaibizzen
  • Feb 25, 2021
  • Blog

Some things for you to know before we dive into this topic. 

  • I am one half of a married couple. 
  • I work alongside my husband in our business. 
  • For over 18 years I’ve been a mentor to other couples in business. 

All that to say, I’ve got pretty deep expertise when it comes to understanding the dynamics of working with your significant other in business.  

Quite regularly, I reflect, often with wry amusement, at my own interactions with my husband as well as my clients and their interactions with their significant others.   

On the one hand I see us interacting oh so patiently, respectfully and politely with team members or clients.  On the other hand, I experience and witness, the snaps, snarls and making the other wrong etc between the partners. Obviously, not all the time, but it’s my experience that when it comes to our significant other, the majority of us (myself included here), particularly when under stress, are less mindful about how we communicate. 

The Surprising Reason We Communicate Poorly With Our Spouse 

When I ponder as to why I do this to Rob, allow Rob to do this to me or why our clients do this with one another, I am reminded of a perspective one of my mentors gave me which I’d previously never considered.   

Her perspective was that Rob and I interacted like this with each other more than anyone else because we truly love each other.   

I distinctly remember being completely flummoxed her statement. She continued, “Faye, Rob feels so safe with you that he can react and express how he’s REALLY feeling.  With your team or your clients, he has to keep it together”.  

So, was my mentor giving me permission to dish it out to Rob, unbridled, because that’s how I was REALLY feeling? Was she saying should I just sit back and allow Rob to talk to me however he jolly well pleased? Or inferring it was ok for me to allow my clients to speak to each other impatiently, disrespectfully or impolitely?   

I think not. 

Realising The True Benefit Of Conflict 

In this blog, my assumption is you consider your life partner to be your soul mate.  I certainly say that of Rob.  I think Elizabeth Gilbert encapsulates the concept of a ‘Soul Mate’ best. She says this… 

“People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants.  A true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.  A true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet because they tear down your walls and smack you awake”.   

Here’s how I interpret what Ms Gilbert is saying into my own life.  

The way I speak to Rob (not all the time, but particularly in times when I’m feeling stressed) is showing me my deep-down patterns of behaviour and communication which I’ve adopted from my interaction with my parents, siblings etc in my early childhood.  The way I allow Rob to speak to me (also not all the time, but in times when he’s feeling stressed or under pressure) is showing me my deep-down patterns of relationship behaviours I have experienced at the hands of others and taken on as OK, since my early childhood.   

In other words, Rob’s and my pattern of communication in our relationship is a mirror for me.   

These patterns give me the opportunity to look at what is enabling me to be the best version of myself and what is disempowering me from being the best version of myself.   

I’m eternally grateful for this intense form of personal development. 

How To Communicate With Our Spouse 

So what behaviours can we display to our partner which enables us to be best version of ourselves? 

  1. As discussed above, every time your partner does or says something to you that gives you the shhhitzens, express gratitude to them for being your mirror because whatever annoys you about them is only reflecting back to you a behaviour or trait you don’t like in yourself. 
  2. Consider them to be your complement.  In my experience a lot of partners are the exact opposite to each in their preferred behavioural and communication styles.  The thing that attracted us to them (the missing part of ourselves) when we first met, will, once the initial heady of days of new love settle down, most likely start to really annoy us.  To be the best version of ourselves, and the have the best version of a relationship, it’s better to see our partner as our complement, rather than positioning them as ‘wrong’ and/or in opposition to us. 
  3. Truly understand each other’s DISC profile (Here’s my previous post on DISC).  DISC is a powerful communication tool which Rob and I use with all our clients.  It helps us better understand our partner as our complement.   It also helps us learn how to adapt our style to communicate with them in a way they prefer to be communicated with, rather than how we to prefer to communicate.   

For example, let’s say your partner needs a lot of detail and information, and so s/he asks you a LOTS of questions. Even though their incessant questioning annoys you deeply, put your annoyance aside and recognise that they’re asking you for what they need. So, make sure you provide him or her every bit of information they want and recognise the benefit in it for you as you do so.  Conversely, if your partner doesn’t need or appreciate that amount of information, don’t give it to him or her, simply because you prefer to have lots of information. 

  1. Truly understand each other’s preferred type.  Just like DISC, a tool like Myers Briggs helps us to understand, whether we’re an extraverted thinker, ie we think by talking out loud or an introverted thinker, ie we think by going into our cave to work it out for ourselves.  It helps us understand whether we’re a go with the flow type person or have to have every detail organised before we do anything.  It helps us to understand whether we’re an off with the fairies/head in the clouds type of person or a person that needs to follow process and the way we’ve always done it.  It helps us to understand whether we make decisions by gut feel or logic.  Again, generally opposites attract.  Therefore, what initially attracted will at some point become a bone of contention between us.  Again, see each other as a complement rather than lock horns. 
  2. Stop making each other wrong.  Your beliefs, your habits etc are right for you (right now) and so are your partners.  No one person’s are “more right” than the other’s.   

You are both right.   

We all have our different perspective and sometimes, just sometimes, truly working through your different perspectives brings out options which neither of you had thought about.  I quite often say of Rob and I that individually we are good, together we’re great.  When we are aligned we are a power to be reckoned with.  If there’s non-alignment, it simply means we haven’t found the best alternative yet.     

Our soul mate is our mirror. Your partnership with your significant other is your gateway to rediscovering your best self. No other relationship, with the exception of the relationship you have with your children, has the power to more quickly bring you into alignment with your best self… provided you have the skills to leverage it for your benefit. 

That’s why, in my opinion, having an external mentor, someone outside the relationship, to provide feedback and perspective is so incredibly valuable. Oftentimes we’re so attached to seeing things from our own perspective, and our communication habits when we’re under pressure or stressed so ingrained, that it’s impossible for us to see how our frustrations and our hurts could possibly be of benefit for us.  

It’s in these moments, where just a couple of questions from myself or Rob, has, on way more than just a few occasions, saved a marriage from completely falling apart. 

Your marriage may not be on the brink, but perhaps it’s not quite the dynamic, supportive, loving environment it once was. Maybe there’s friction and underlying tension. Or maybe you just simply don’t feel like you and your spouse are on the same page any more. 

Whatever it may be, I invite you to reach out for a confidential conversation. Rob and I are here to work alongside you and your partner to create the lifestyle and relationship you’ve always wanted for you, and your family.  

02 Oct

Panel Discussion

Tuesday, 6:30pm Quest Cannon Hill

What does it take to actually remove yourself from the day-to-day grind of business? Learn from our panel of Business Owners who've Been There, Done That.