Have you ever been told that the problem with your communication is not what you say but how you say it?  Most of us have heard that at one time or another.  Because we may not choose the best phrase or words, what we say is misunderstood and our best intentions go by the wayside.  Author Scott Sells discusses questions that we can ask our teens that demonstrate our openness, humility, and true desire to cooperate.  As I read these, I thought about how appropriate these questions (with a little modification) can be for couples whose communication patterns have become closed and hostile.  Let me share four questions with you.

  1. How come you have not thrown in the towel yet and given up on me and our relationship? What keeps you going?  This shows humility, ownership of your issues, and openness to your spouse.
  2. I have told you in the past how you can be helpful to me. Now I want know how can I be helpful to you?  For some of you, you may have to wait until your spouse picks his or her jaw up off of the floor, before they can respond.  They may not have heard this kind of question in a long time – but they welcome it.
  3. What things have I done or said in the past that were not helpful or turned you off? I ask this question because I don’t want to repeat the same mistakes in the future.  If your communication in the past has closed down your partner’s spirit – this will certainly contribute (if it is sincere) to opening them up again.
  4. If we were on track to solving some long-standing problems that we have (you might want to be specific about an issue), what do you see me doing differently to help this happen? Once again, showing non-defensive openness can go a long ways in reopening closed hearts.

 Which questions do you need to be asking your husband, wife, fiancée, girlfriend, or boyfriend this week to reopen healthy communication?

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