7 Tips for Engagement - Dustin Riechmann.001Do you sometimes have trouble getting your spouse to talk to you?  Or really listen to what you have to say?

It’s amazing how often I hear from couples who struggle simply because they “don’t talk anymore.”

If you’re struggling with this issue, I hope you will find these tips helpful for establishing healthy two-way communication in your marriage.

Even if it’s not a major problem, I think we can all improve in this all-important area!

And if you’re looking to really ramp up your communication, I highly recommend you check out our popular free video presentation on this topic:

Discover the #1 Secret to a Happy & Healthy Marriage (even if you feel more like roommates than spouses right now)

7 Tips to Get Your Spouse Engaged

1. Be the Spouse You Desire

The first step to getting your spouse to treat you the way you desire is to model for them what that looks like.  You can’t directly control their actions, but you can control your own.

If you want them to be interested in what you have to say, be engaging and show how much you care about them.

It is so easy to fall into the trap of only reciprocating, but when you take that approach you both lose.  Try your best to “suck it up” and be the spouse that you want to be married to.

It’s called the Golden Rule for a reason.

Are you enjoying this post? I created a free worksheet to help you put these ideas into practice! Enter your info below to get it instantly.

2. Speak Their Language

In general, wives crave empathy and husbands crave respect.  Do your best to communicate in a way that fulfills your spouse on their terms.

I highly recommend that you read The Five Love Languages and apply the principles that you learn as a way to connect in a way that your wife or husband will respond to the best.  Speak their love language!

3. Don’t Shut Down

When you are not getting what you want, it is so easy to simply recoil and exact some “revenge” on your spouse by withdrawing.

This is not productive, and it will only degrade your communication further.  If you haven’t read the great  post by Stephanie Baffone called “What’s the Secret to a Happy Marriage?“, I highly recommend that you check it out and be conscious to avoid the unhealthy communication patterns that she highlights.

Remember, it starts with you.

4. Establish Expectations

Once you’ve gotten your own mind set in the right place, it’s vital that you let your spouse know in clear terms what you need from them.

Find some quiet time, turn off the television and tell your spouse that you really need to talk.  Sit down face-to-face, take their hands in yours, look them in the eye and really impress upon them how very important this is to you.

Don’t assume that your husband (or wife) really understands how deeply concerned you are about their lack of communication.

Tell them.

5. Don’t Expect a Mind Reader

After you’ve been married for a while, it is so easy to fall into patterns.  This is especially true in the area of communication where you develop expectations that your spouse knows what you are thinking and how you’d like them to interact with you.

Take a few minutes to read “Attention Ladies: Your Husband Cannot Read Your Mind!” and take this message to heart.

With guys in particular, you cannot assume that we know what you want…trust me. 🙂

Don’t forget to get your free worksheet to help you put these ideas into practice! Enter your info below to get it instantly.

6. Set Aside the Time to Talk

If you want to have a healthy marriage with extraordinary communication, you have to make it a priority.

This requires time, although it isn’t as difficult as it may sound.  Check out our manifesto on the topic “Take 15 Minutes Each Day to Just be a Couple” and start setting aside a little time each day for the two of you to simply interact…without all of the distractions we all face in our busy family lives.

If you’re looking for some really easy, but very meaningful, ways to open up the conversation and feel reconnected in as little as 15 minutes, I’d encourage you to pick up a copy of 15 Minute Marriage Makeover.

7. Affirm, Affirm, Affirm

Make it a point to let your spouse know about the things they do that you like!  There is no better way to encourage the behaviors you enjoy than by using positive reinforcement.

My wife and I try to make it a point to tell each other one little thing each day that we liked.  This could be as simple as saying thank you for an encouraging text message or sharing how cool you thought it was that they spent time playing with the kids outside while you prepared dinner in a quiet kitchen.

A little affirmation goes a long way!

Take Action: Watch Our Free Video Training to Fix Broken Communication

If you take these tips to heart and implement them with passion, I’m confident that you can make great strides in your marital communication.

If you need additional help, please take some time today to go watch this training:

Free Video Training on Communication

If you’re stuck in a rut or your communication has degraded to the point that you feel more like roommates than spouses, this presentation is a must-see.  It is only available for a limited time, so be sure to check it out today.

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About the author 

Dustin

Dustin Riechmann created Engaged Marriage to help other married couples live a life they love (especially) when they feel too busy to make it happen. He has many passions, including sharing ways to enjoy an awesome marriage in 15 minutes a day, but his heart belongs with his wife Bethany and their three young kids.

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  1. I agree wholeheartedly with your first tip, that we cannot control our spouses, we can only control ourselves. So rather than ask myself how I can get my husband to listen to me more, I need to turn that around on myself and ask how I can become a more engaged listener. When my husband and I are having a conversation, I need to take my fingers off the keyboard and face him fully. Too often these days, we’re distracted by the TV, the internet, a cell phone.

    1. I totally agree, Susan! I write about this stuff every day, and I still have to be conscious to give my full attention to my wife sometimes. It is so easy to be distracted!

      And I have also learned first-hand in many areas (marriage, career, family, etc.) that I can only change myself and lead by example.

  2. Great post! I’m especially drawn to #1 and #5.

    Marriage – in its intended form – is pretty counter-cultural when you think about: you’re supposed to elevate the needs of your spouse above your own. The best place to start is to be the spouse you want be married to – great way of connecting it to the Golden Rule, too!

    My wife makes a face when we’re, shall we say “disagreeing” :-), and it’s the “why can’t can you see exactly what I’m thinking” face. The funny thing is that apparently I have a similar face. Regardless of the faces we make at each other, we’ve gotten the idea that we can’t actually see what we’re thinking. This reminds us to extend grace to each other, but it also reminds us to use the best words we can to clearly communicate.

    Now, when we make faces at each other, one of us will pipe up and say, “Use your words!” That has diffused a lot of arguements, for sure.
    .-= Derek Sisterhen | Past Due Radio´s last blog ..099 Past Due – Baby Step Blasphemy & Improvisational Finance =-.

    1. I love it, Derek! I think you have given the Tip of the Day for marriage: “Use Your Words!”

      We have to remind our two-year-old daughter of this pretty often, and you are right that we can fall into the same state as married couples.

  3. I like the tip on affirmation. I like getting it, and I love when I can sincerely give it. For the past few years, pretty much every wedding card I’ve given to a new couple has included my personal #1 advice: “Be thankful for each other!” You can never feel like you’re too good for someone and be genuinely thankful for that person at the same time. Affirmation is another way of saying, “Thanks! You are still so important to me!” It conveys respect, love, so many things we crave in companionship.

    1. More words of great wisdom from you, Wendy! I think we can assembled a how-to on marriage from these comments. So far we have:

      Pay Attention
      Use Your Words
      Be Thankful

      I guess those lessons we learn early in life ARE really valuable! 🙂

  4. Number one is a biggie for me. It’s difficult sometimes when you feel like you’re the only one putting forth effort and being mindful. But it’s important to keep doing it because it does make a difference. Once you stop, you begin to shut down and as you said, that degrades things even further.

    And I especially like the final one about affirming things with each other…I’m going to have to start working on that one! 🙂

    C

    1. Thanks, Cori! I think everyone likes affirmation, and giving it out really does come back around. Of course, it has to be sincere, but I’m sure you can find some cool things to say about your loved ones. 😉

  5. To tell you the truth Dustin, this is not an easy ask. Men are very prone to stonewalling and indifference. However, I believe that we must fight these instincts in order for our relation to grow with our spouses. Marriage is one avenue for growth; without letting go of our selfishness, we will never truly understand our spouses. 🙂
    .-= Walter´s last blog ..The caveats of blogging =-.

    1. I totally agree with you, Walter. And the point isn’t to transform a man in a chatty girlfriend when that’s simply not our nature. However, we can be good listeners and carry on meaningful conversations even if we do speak half as many words per day as our wives. 🙂

  6. These words of wisdom are so important and most relate to any relationship. Healthy boundaries and clear expectations are vital.

    Being a big fan of ‘The Five Love Languages’ series, I am impressed that Gary Chapman continues to write and publish new books. I have used strategies (or variations on the same strategies) from four of the books in the series.

    Although this blog says ‘engaged married’, I am glad, that although my blog is for single women, that I accepted the high recommendation to visit – I have now added it to my favorites to check most days!

    Thanks
    .-= Cathy J´s last blog ..Guy Magnet: Part 3 Become Successful and Live Your Life =-.

    1. Thanks so much, Cathy J! I really appreciate your valuable perspective, and I agree that a lot of what we discuss here applies to all relationships. I’m very happy to have your input and look forward to interacting with you often. 🙂

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    1. I go to hold a conversation with my baby but all she doing is say it my fault ww dnt talk and gets upset with the topic so how can i get us talking about more then just the normal day when everything I say she takes as blaming or not trying to actually talk with her

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  13. I have done every single one of these things and still nothing, deer in headlights look, why will he not communicate with me!?

    1. Candi, sometimes we (men) can be hard-headed and set in our ways. You can’t change him or force him, but you can be consistent in your efforts. Keep doing the things you can do, follow those steps, and be consistent. Show him love, even when it’s not reciprocal. As you love him unconditionally and continue to try and talk to him without being too pushy or demanding, he will start to respond. It may come slowly, but stay with it. Find creative ways to get him to talk…don’t think it has to be the “sit down and hold his hands” talking. Talk about things he likes to talk about, to get the conversation started. We’ve got some articles at www.youramazingmarriage.com that address communication. Hang in there!

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  15. Great article! As a Marriage & Family Therapist, I see couples all the time who have trouble getting their spouse to engage with them. These are great tips. I especially like the “Setting Expections” – too often we assume that our partner knows what we need without explicitly saying it. This sets them up to fail. Also, I find that communicating your needs WITHOUT criticism or blame is important. Here’s an article I wrote about getting your partner to listen to you: http://chappelltherapy.com/couples-conflict/

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  18. Dustin,
    You have really hit the target. Today’s modern marriages lack proper communication. Couples say that they are too tired to communicate with each other. Unless you talk with each other you are not going know the view points of your spouse. Yet another major fault you make is you talk only about important family matters which is usually confrontational and argumentative. Small talking about innocuous topics can enliven your conversation with your spouse. Excellent tips!

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  21. Dustin, As to #3 – When your spouse shuts down, these are several reasons you might not be seeing at the time:
    They are over-reacting to something you said or how you reacted to something they said.
    They might feel they have more than enough information to make their knee-jerk reaction to clam up.
    They might not have seen the issue from your side.

    I know there are other reasons but these might get folks to pause and ask a couple of reflective questions for theirself.
    For us, my early reaction was to be on the attack -that’s how I was raised. I have learned this is not how to gently open my bride to our discussions. A kind answer always provides more ligth than it does heat. I used to be the other way around and it hurt our marriage for years.

    — Jerry – Does your wife crave these 4 techniques from you? http://wp.me/p50Bqq-av

    Thanks

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  27. Yes, your ideas are great and I have tried them sincerely! But what if my husband takes what I tell him from my heart and does just the opposite just to treat me badly? Now that speaks really loud. Then he says he loves me and what is the problem with me? You don’t account for manipulation and control that a man or woman can do to make the other spouse “look” like the one that is doing it all wrong.

  28. That 6th tips has worked wonders for my marriage and for my friends’ marriages. It’s really simple thing to do when you think about it. Come home from work, have some lunch, sit down and grab a cup of tea/coffee and just chat, without money talk or solving problems, just share your day, just for a few minutes. When you’re both calm and relaxed, it’s much easier to tackle other stuff.

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