Communication was non-existent because I was too emotional, overreacted, and stopped listening to my spouse—verbal abuse, shame and blame, and lying added fuel to the fire. I am civil when we talk about the kids or say hi & bye. But to get healthy and move on, I need to speak up, communicate, and correctly express my feelings and myself. When my spouse talked to me, he interrogated me, and when I got nervous, stuttered, and misspoke, he pounced and called me a liar. I wasn’t a compelling communicator. I had no voice because I was oppressed. I didn’t like my spouse nor respect my spouse. That was revealed verbally and non-verbally. When I spoke to my spouse, I was short, smart-alecky, mocking, and crisp. I had a chip on my voice. Nonverbally, I rolled my eyes, looked at him crazy and shook my head no. My preferred method of communication was writing notes or texting, but my spouse preferred to talk, and I didn’t care how I sounded; l wanted to get it over with. I am learning how to deal with my feelings, and now I need to express my feelings and communicate appropriately with my spouse.

Communicating better with my spouse helps us move forward, no matter what we do. I cannot afford a bunch of get-better books, so I Googled communication. I was ashamed to discover I was a horrible communicator. I was too emotional and wouldn’t or couldn’t listen. To be better, I printed off a few pages.  I took the time to read the pages, study the bullet points, and write them out. Whatever interpersonal communication skills I had before the marriage deteriorated, just like the marriage. I took responsibility for my shortcomings and learned to speak up correctly and express my feelings.

My spouse wanted to talk to me about us, and I agreed. I dropped the negative attitude and decided to listen. I do not want to judge, shame and blame him because I’m just as messed up. I remind myself that there is no more finger-pointing and maybe I’ll learn something. This is my opportunity to try a different approach to how I communicate. If I wanted my voice to be heard, I had to shut up, pay attention, and open my closed mind. This was new to me, so I had my talking points. I recall how, in the past, my spouse tried to tell me to start using I-statements instead of You-statements. I rejected it because it came from him, and I didn’t know what it meant. I dismissed the message because my mind was closed to the messenger. Now I know what the statements mean and how to use them, and I admit my spouse gave me essential information about expressing myself better.

The house was empty. We talked. I was nervous but not afraid. I listened with an open mind. I prayed. I channeled my foundation of love, faith, peace, and hope instead of resentment, fear, anger, and despair. If I had a question, I asked. He made good points that I agreed with. It was my turn; I repeated and acknowledged what he said. I told him how I felt and why. For each topic, I gave examples of how his behavior affected me. I was honest and respectful, not opinionated. He interrupted, and I politely said, let me finish instead of getting mad, and proceeded to tell him what I needed and wanted.  It was a good start. My pent-up feelings were eager to be released, and the more my words flowed, the better I felt about myself. Good communication with my spouse helps me to respond instead of react, understand, be understood, and express my feelings in a rational way.