1- Understand and respect different communication styles.
When stressed, some individuals embrace an inward style - like a turtle - keeping things inside and minimizing their emotions. They need time to think and freedom from pressure to share their thoughts. They speak and share slowly, taking pauses between sentences. Others have an outward style, more like a Tiger. When under pressure, they become more expressive, maximizing their emotions. They talk animatedly and want to process what happened out loud and in the moment. No right, no wrong. Just different styles. Respect and understanding are essential.
2- check for availability before holding a conversation.
Especially around a sensitive or important topic. A simple question like: Are you available to talk now? It is the way to ensure your spouse will hear you. If you say it is not a good time, please offer an alternative time so your partner will feel important to you. Then, honor the alternative time you suggested. For the waiting partner, manage the conversation delay with the understanding that your chances of being fully heard will increase when your spouse is available.
3- Prioritize listening.
Set yourself into listening mode and resist the urge to defend yourself, offer explanations, interrupt your spouse with corrections, or ask for clarifications. Instead, summarize what you heard and ask if there is more. Trust that listening will help you to understand and find a better solution to what is happening. Defending and explaining when your spouse is talking makes things worse.
4- Pay attention to your body.
Depending on the conversation, your energy will become constricted. Your whole body might shut down or go into defense mode because you feel attacked. Make sure you breathe. Remember how babies breathe when sleeping. Follow the rhythm of their breathing. And tell your brain that the person right before you is your beloved partner. When you breathe, you create space for mature thinking, even during challenging conversations.
5- Choose Honor.
Decide to be a person who honors your significant other. Even during the most challenging conversations, vow that you will not engage in aggressive behavior, name-calling, and other disrespectful actions. Instead, develop a personal statement and repeat it aloud at least three times a day: I honor my partner and will not act toward him/her disrespectfully, even when I am outraged.