In Summary
  • It’s important to recognise bad conversational routines and to challenge them.

  • Because the way you talk together can make or break your marriage.

You love your spouse, and they love you. But you’re slowly becoming one of those couples who don’t talk to one another in restaurants.

Things used to be more exciting. But now your lives revolve around work, chores and the children. Routine isn’t entirely a bad thing, of course. But it can come to feel like you’re stuck. And so you start wondering whether you could be doing more with your life, if only you weren’t married.

Or maybe your spouse has started blaming you for their own lack of achievement: ‘If it weren’t for you, I’d have my own business.’ Respond by calling their bluff. Say you’ll arrange things so they have enough spare time to indulge their passion. But what if every suggestion’s met with reasons why that won’t work? They don’t really want a solution. They want your attention. So stop being supportive and be challenging instead: ‘So what do you want to do?’

negotiating skills

Maybe your spouse never gives you a genuine compliment. Instead they constantly criticise, usually to deflect attention from their own feelings of inadequacy. Deal with this by pointing out each criticism as it happens, and explore together why it was made.

Maybe they try to dominate your relationship. Politely stand your ground. Or no matter what happens, it always seems to be your fault. Don’t accept the blame. Hand back responsibility to your spouse: ‘So what would you have done?’

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