Communication is the foundation for a healthy marriage. Both people in a marriage need to be seen and heard. Marriage is a place that your needs and wants should be met without stomping out the needs and wants of your spouse.
If assertive behavior makes you feel uncomfortable, you might be thinking of aggressive behavior, someone pushing their agenda without concern for anyone else. But assertiveness is actually the middle ground between agressive behavior and passive-agressive behavior.
Assertive behavior is confidently speaking up for your needs and feelings. Learning to be assertive will allow you to express your thoughts, needs, and feelings in a way that is respectful of both you and your spouse.
5 Times to Be Assertive in Marriage
#1 – Use “I” statements
“I” statements allow your spouse to know what you are thinking and feeling about a situation. So instead of “You make me so mad when…” try “I feel hurt/angry/upset when…”
#2 – Be clear in asking what you want
Don’t be vague about your needs or wants. And don’t wait for your spouse to “figure out what it is you want.” Instead, state clearly what you want to happen or what you need. This is one of the best ways to get rid of passive-agressive behavior. If you are waiting for your spouse to “figure out” your needs and you don’t get what you need/want then you start to hold a grudge. This can later turn into a fight, and it is all because you’re not being clear with your spouse or yourself.
#3 – Listen to your spouse’s point of view
You are in this marriage together! That means two points of view. It’s ok for you to have differing opinions, and it doesn’t mean that you have to agree to his point of view. A healthy relationship allows for differing opinions. You both have unique qualities that balance each other out. Take time to listen to your spouse, and don’t forget to voice your point of view!
#4 – Stay Calm
It can be very easy to become worked up emotionally when it comes to discussing sensitive topics. Becoming assertive is not about hurtling insults, accusations, or putting your spouse on trial. Assertiveness in marriage is expressing your needs, wants, and hopes so that you can work together for those to be met.
Anger will only damage the lines of communication when you both feel hurt and isolated.
#5 – Be willing to compromise
There are times when you will need to compromise on something. Compromise is the dance between you and your spouse to find a way that each of your needs and wants are met. Sometimes you may need to give a little, and sometimes your spouse may be giving more. There will be times when you may need to stay true to your convictions.
Assertiveness doesn’t come naturally to most of us. It takes time and practice to develop assertive behavior in marriage.