Ace Your Communication

How to Break the Ice in a Cold War with Your Spouse

Improve your communication the A.C.E. way.

By Susan Koh | 18 April, 2019

Bring back the sweet nothings

“Why are you always tired the moment I want to talk to you? I only wanted to...”

Before I could even breathe a word more, my husband pulled the blanket over his head and snapped, “Good night!”, cutting me off in the middle of my sentence.

As I lay in bed staring into the dark, I began reminiscing our courtship days when we would spend hours on the telephone. Even though my then boyfriend, and now husband is an introvert, he was comfortable baring his soul and revealing his innermost thoughts and feelings to me.

Fast forward 15 years later, the man who promised to give his heart wouldn’t even lend me his ears.

Just how have we gone from whispering sweet nothings to saying nothing?

Fortunately, we arrested our communication breakdown before it headed further south. While there are still days when unkind words are said in anger and we get defensive at the slightest suggestion of an on-coming conflict, we have also learnt to be quick to apologise and reconcile the next day.

Rebounding from a communication breakdown

A lack of communication has been cited as one of the top reasons for marital breakdowns, ranking even higher than infidelity. A girlfriend once said that she’d rather quarrel with her husband than be caught in a cold war.

When both parties have reached a stage where they couldn’t care less to even quarrel, they have grown emotionally distant, which is a slippery slope downhill.

When a couple stops communicating, it usually stems from the woman feeling unloved and the man feeling disrespected. How can we communicate better so as to break the silence and reconnect as a couple?

3 ways to ace communication with your spouse

We can use the acronyms A.C.E to remember 3 practical ways on how to ace communication with our spouse and restore the relationship.

A: Apologise and mean it

We don’t like to feel patronised when our kids give us half-hearted apologies, yet we are guilty of doing that when we say, “I’m sorry but...” and attempt to justify our wrong-doing.

Although saying sorry is the first step to break the silence, especially if we were the one who triggered the cold war, anything less than a sincere apology makes us appear begrudging.

Between my husband and I, I struggle to apologise as I expect him to give in to me. (I blame Korean dramas for my unrealistic expectations.)

However, being the first to apologise doesn’t mean we are weak. It shows that we care more about mending the relationship than the need to be right. Laying our egos aside to apologise wholeheartedly is never easy, but for the sake of our marriage, it is worth it.

Being the first to apologise doesn’t mean we are weak. It shows that we care more about mending the relationship than the need to be right.

C: Choose not to be offended

Whenever my husband hints that the house is getting too untidy, my first response is to feel attacked. Once this self-defensiveness is triggered, I shut out my emotions and retaliate by being critical.

We feel the need to protect ourselves, but the danger is when we go all out to win an argument only to realise too late that it comes at a heavy cost.

So let’s make a conscious effort not to take every comment personally. Instead, we can accept our spouse’s feedback graciously, perhaps asking, how can we do it together or do it better. More often than not, my husband who is a fixer, jumps at the opportunity to solve the problem, resulting in a win-win outcome for everyone.

We feel the need to protect ourselves, but the danger is when we go all out to win an argument only to realise too late that it comes at a heavy cost.

E: Express your wishes

Women expect men to be mind-readers. However, men just want us to get to the point and tell them straight up.

After 12 years of marriage, I’ve learnt to express my wishes to my husband by using “I would love it if...” statements.

For these statements to be effective, they would need to be positive and future-focused. For example, “I would love it if you consulted me before agreeing to go out with your friends tonight” or “I would love it if you offered to take the kids for their classes, so that I can rest tomorrow.”

The idea is not to use them as angry or sarcastic statements to pick a fight. So statements like, “I would love it if you stop being a pain” is not going to be helpful.

Having an occasional timeout is necessary, but don’t allow the cooling period to overrun its course. Keep the lines of communication open and nurture your marriage by using the A.C.E strategies shared above.

Susan is a self-confessed C+ mum who lives for coffee, chocolate and heartfelt connections. As a mum of one she believes that the best parenting style is parenting with intention and shares her motherhood journey on her blog A Juggling Mom.

Think about:

  • Which part of A.C.E. would you apply to your own marriage?


© 2019 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved.

 

 

Sign up for regular Marriage + Parenting tips!

 

Related Posts

/images/FOTFS_SiteTemplate/Blog/Marriage/blog_restore_broken_trust.jpg
/images/FOTFS_SiteTemplate/Blog/Marriage/blog_rediscovering_the_sweetness.jpg
/images/FOTFS_SiteTemplate/Blog/Marriage/blog_overcome_personality_differences_in_marriage.jpg