I had the privilege to share my thoughts about effective ways for couples to communicate before, during and after their wedding with The Wedding Standard. Getting married is one of the most significant things you will do in your lifetime and making that commitment to another person requires not only love, but mindfulness, dedication and hard work. As is the case with taking on any meaningful endeavor, preparation is important if you want to be successful. I encourage couples to start early in establishing a healthy communication style to build a solid foundation as they begin married life.
I often say that the wedding planning process shines a bright light on relationship dynamics between partners, their families of origin and their friends. These dynamics don't automatically disappear once married life begins but show up often in their future life together. If couples can use the stressful time of planning their wedding as their bootcamp for developing and practicing healthy communication patterns, they will be setting off on the right path toward a successful partnership over the long haul. Researchers have found that communication style is the key.
The way in which you communicate, and argue, with your partner is an even more important indicator of a successful marriage outcome than your level of commitment, personality traits or stressful life events. Constructive communication means you engage with each other kindly. You learn to be an active listener, seeking to discover what your partner is feeling rather than problem solving or offering unsolicited advice. After listening to your partner carefully, repeat back to them what you heard so you really express an understanding of the issues at hand. You should even try to make your partner laugh. This type of positive strategy does not mean you shouldn't talk about stressful or difficult subjects. It is just the opposite. If you don't talk about these things, resentment and anger can be a result and there is nothing more destructive to a marriage. Couples that yell or resort to personal criticisms or those that withdraw from the discussion altogether are more likely to break up than couples that argue constructively. The key is learning to tackle difficult topics as a team, rather than as adversaries, in a positive and constructive way.
This positive nurturing communication style really is the key to a healthy and happy long term partnership. Check in with each other often. Take time out from technology to really focus on each other and share deep conversations. The time to start this practice is long before you walk down the aisle. (originally posted 11/2017)