Marriage Communication

Marriage Communication

Marriage is difficult.

It is wonderful, and it is difficult.

And one thing that can make or break any relationship is successful communication.

Successful communication is a necessity for any marriage to thrive and that's why it is essential to have communication as a marriage tool in your kit.

One of the absolute best communication tools to help build your marriage is BENN.

BENN is an acronym for Behavior, Emotion, Need, and Negotiation.

Let's break it down so that you can start incorporating it as one of your marriage tools.

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Behavior

Most arguments happen because of repetitive annoyance that your partner is doing that you haven't successfully been able to address (and believe me, you have plenty yourself that they haven't been able to address).

This starts off with consideration for your partner, you don't want to hurt their feelings and it seems small enough that it shouldn't bother you. 

A small thing now turns into a big thing down the road, and even more difficult to talk about which then results in a shouting match about ALL the things your partner does that bother you. 

So, instead, successful communication begins with identifying 1 specific behavior that your partner is doing that is causing unnecessary friction.

For example, if your partner leaves dishes in the living room or a the table, instead of saying "you're a slob" or name-calling, simply state the exact behavior, "when you leave dishes out..."

This prevents the other person from getting over-defensive because you aren't attacking them personally you are pointing out a very specific action.

This brings us to the next letter, E.

Emotion

Almost every argument that a couple has is thought versus thought, I'm right and you're wrong, and here's why.

The problem is, everyone thinks they're right and worse, thoughts can be disagreed with, and reasons can be argued against.

So, STOP arguing thoughts, and START getting to the actual core of the issue which is that their specific behavior is impacting you on an emotional level. 

Emotions can't be argued with, they are a subjective experience unique to the individual; if someone tells me they feel betrayed, I can't say "no you don't" and have any ground to stand on.

If however, someone says, "you betrayed me," then I can present tons of arguments and counterpoints and thoughts to the contrary which only leads to more fighting. 

Instead of that endless cycle, get down to the core and identify exactly how their behavior impacted you on an emotional level, don't bother explaining or defending your emotions, just label it and state it.

Building on the dishes example, "when you leave the dishes out it makes me feel hurt and unappreciated."

You're taking ownership of your emotions by not saying YOU make me feel... instead you are connecting it to a specific action. 

This brings us now to the letter N.

Need

Often, the simple act of labeling and stating the emotion can resolve an enormous amount of negative energy and, in itself, be enough to end the conflict.

Never underestimate the power of being heard. 

On the other hand, when it is a consistent behavior that regularly rears its ugly head, there is another step that needs to be taken and that step is identifying what you need in order to feel resolved. 

This is a huge part of successful communication because it means you've put thought into the matter and are offering a solution that will prevent the awkwardness of this same conversation from happening again. 

It signals to the other person that they (as a person) are not a terrible monster and unworthy of being with, but have agency and direction to make a positive change. 

It also lets you feel better about being able to give voice to a concern and possible solution. 

"When you leave the dishes out it makes me feel hurt and unappreciated. I need you to put your dishes in the dishwasher."

But sometimes that need may be asking too much or might seem like it from the other person's point of view.

This leads us to the last letter, another N.

Negotiation

Being married means constantly negotiating limits, and opportunities; what's admissible and what is not.

Successful communication is no different.

Negotiation in itself is a great marriage tool for both partners to be able to do.

Negotiating is a wonderful way for both partners to feel like they have a say in the relationship. 

It's cooperative and builds confidence that both people have equal status in the relationship. 

It also offers the chance for an even better solution to the problem that may prevent additional arguments down the line. 

Always give your partner the chance to bring an alternative to the table. 

So, here's the example again but using the full acronym in order:

"When you leave the dishes out it makes me feel hurt and unappreciated. I need you to put the dishes in the dishwasher, but I'm open to any other ideas that would also resolve this."

It may seem a little robotic, but after using this strategy a few times you and your partner will find a more relaxed way of implementing it that feels organic and leads to far more successful communication. 

Conclusion

Marriage is very hard which is why it's important to have the best marriage tools you can.

Successful communication is key to a happy marriage and BENN is one of the best communication tools out there.

It will feel awkward to have such a structured approach at first, but getting your partner on board will help you both feel more heard, and resolve more conflicts in a shorter time. 

BENN will help you build trust, confidence, and clarity in your marriage and help you see your partner more clearly.

Get talking!

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January 28th, 2023