Being a Jerk: Part VII

In conclusion, I am going to leave you with one more word of guidance from Dr. John Van Epp and his book, “How to Avoid Falling In Love With a Jerk: The Foolproof Way to Follow Your Heart Without Losing Your Mind.” This should be able to help you and your spouse have better communication, which is related to the last article about conversation.

Listening can be so hard. We’re busy, we’re doing something, we’re not that interested, or whatever our excuse is, is one excuse too many. Listening is a crucial part of our communication. So why is it something that we don’t see as that serious? How can we change that?

Here are some questions to ask yourself if you are having trouble figuring out if you are a bad listener. Do you look somewhere else while your spouse talks? Do you not give your spouse the attention they need when they are speaking? Are you thinking about other things, like what’s happening tomorrow, while your spouse tries to connect with you? If you answered yes to one of these questions, then it seems like there are some things that you can work on.

One thing that you can consciously think about while conversing with your spouse are the nonverbal messages that you are sending and receiving. Van Epp says, “Many times the nonverbal messages speak more loudly than the verbal. This is one reason why you should pay attention to your intuition, hunches, inner feelings, and vices around your partner…Make sure you are “reading” the other person correctly so that you don’t jump to the wrong conclusions!” Have you ever been listening to what your spouse is saying and you just start assuming what they are trying to say? Or have you ever been talking and your spouse has a defensive posture on accident and you get upset? If this happens you can sit down with your spouse and talk about what these things mean to you. Ask them why they do certain things while listening to see what they are thinking in those moments. He went on to say, “Your interpretation of his or her nonverbal can become a topic in a future discussion, which will help clarify your understanding of what that person usually means by his or her body language.”

So now you’re intrigued by what a good listener might do and practice? Good! Van Epp has described what to do for just that! He said, “Listening is more than just passive silence.” Try to make your spouse feel engaged while you listen. Make them feel like you understand what they are saying (it also will really help if you do understand.) He also said that the more personal they get the more important it is for you to listen!

While Van Epp was in college, he was taught an acronym to help listeners listen better. It’s called SOLER.

Square Off – make sure your shoulders are square with the person talking.

Open – keep your arms and legs uncrossed so that you have an open, nondefensive position.

Lean – lean forward toward the person talking.

Eye Contact – keep eye contact with the person talking.

Relax – stay relaxed as you listen.

This acronym can help you be more in tune with your spouse as you listen. You will also be more willing to not just hear what they are saying but to think about what it is they are talking about.

Van Epp included that some people may feel a little ashamed and won’t admit that they are not great listeners though they want to be better. He assures that it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Having a desire to strengthen this skill will enhance your communication with your spouse, as long as you do try and work on it. It will be something that will most likely receive praise over, not humiliation.

Lastly, in order to have a well-balanced conversation, both parties need to participate equally. He says, “There should be similar amounts of listening, talking, disclosing, and initiation between you and the person you are dating [married to.]” You can talk about interests, hobbies, career, family, values, and perspectives on life to create a conversation.

In turn, these helps will create a better foundation for conflict resolution. It is never a bad idea to strengthen yourself and your relationship with your spouse!


Photo Credits


Being a Jerk: Part I

Being a Jerk: Part II

Being a Jerk: Part III

Being a Jerk: Part IV

Being a Jerk: Part V

Being a Jerk: Part VI



Being a Jerk: Part VI

So, change is possible but it can be hard to get started. It can also be hard to keep going. However if you are motivated to making things work with your spouse, you’ll be able to do it! Dr. John Van Epp has talked about a way to continue strengthening your marriage in his book, “How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk: The Foolproof Way to Follow Your Heart Without Losing Your Mind.”

Van Epp says that deepening your communication with your spouse will do wonders. You are probably already aware that communication is key, especially since you and your spouse are different people. He said, “The key is to accurately and extensively get to know the person you are dating, delving deeper in your communication as your relationship grows.” Learning more about your spouse is something that you need to keep up with for the rest of your lives because of the growth that comes from it.

He went on to say that there are four layers that help communication and conversations get better and become more meaningful. They start ranging from “shallow to deep,” which is what we need and should desire. He has created an acronym called OPEN to help you remember these levels.

The first level is Observations and Facts. Van Epp says that this means, “these refer to the type of communication where you relay current events, established facts, and things you’ve heard and seen.” An example of this would be, “Gray is my favorite color.” You are just stating the obvious, facts about yourself, and things you have noticed.

The second level is Perspectives and Opinions. His definition is, “they describe the type of communication where you add interpretations and opinion to your facts. An example would be, “My favorite color is gray, which is the best color there is.” When you talk about something that has happened and discuss what you think about it or how it affected is you demonstrating the second level.

The third level is Experiences and Emotions. Van Epp explains that this means, “They convey more of the subjective, personal and emotional content about your facts and opinions. An example is, “Gray isn’t a sad color for me. I find it brings me happiness when I see it.” This is probably one of the more used ones while talking to your spouse, especially during a time of trouble or a fluctuation in moods.

And lastly, the fourth level is Needs and Relationship Responses. Van Epp says, “this deepest level of communication occurs when you put your deepest feelings into words. Both refer to a here-and-now experience where you convey feelings you’re having at that time about either something very personal or some way you feel toward the person you are with. An example would be, “Although gray can remind most people of rain clouds and being sad, I think about the silver lining on those clouds, like when we struggle.” This level gets to the very bottom of how you feel right now about where you are at, what situation you’re in, and the feelings you have towards your spouse.

Obviously these examples included were light and airy, but hopefully they got the point across enough to help you understand.

Have you and your spouse ever talked about something a few times over the course of a few months? If you have it’s because your communication is deepening. Van Epp explained that, “As a relationship grows and communications “deepens,” the same topics are revisited time and time again but with greater depth. For instance you can talk to someone about your experience within your family of origin with minimal depth. However, as time goes on and more is shared a greater depth of openness occurs. There are many depictions for the different depths of openness.” The longer you know and are around your spouse, the deeper your conversations are going to be. It’s normal, natural, and just what you want!

Being open in your marriage is what it needs to thrive. Learn about your spouse and your bond will grow with them. You two will be strengthened because of honesty and trust you give to one another. Here’s one more thing that Van Epp said, “Healthy relationships continue to cycle through the same topic areas from the situational and relationship domains, yet with more meaning and depth each time.” Hopefully this can help you with sharing more with your spouse. Build that strong and healthy relationship with them. Share thoughts and feelings openly, but don’t hurt your spouse. Communication is key to making your marriage work!


Photo Credits


Being a Jerk: Part I

Being a Jerk: Part II

Being a Jerk: Part III

Being a Jerk: Part IV

Being a Jerk: Part V


Text Messages Your Spouse Would Love


From the article “How to improve your marriage by texting…” Gordon Brewer found that “97% of smart phone users use texting.  And as of 2015, nearly two-thirds of Americans own smart phones.  So it is very likely that you communicate with your spouse via text messages.”

Let’s face it!  If we own a cell phone it rarely leaves our side and we are constantly using it to communicate with others.  How often do we use it to create closeness and intimacy in our relationship with our spouse?  How often do we use texting when we are trying to solve a conflict with our spouse?

Brewer believes trying to solve conflicts through texting “sets a couple up for failure” and he lists some simple guidelines on the “do’s” and “don’ts” of texting your spouse:

The Do’s:

1. Text your spouse love notes often!
2. Only use texting for non-crucial conversations.
3. Texting is great for grocery lists, when you will be home, when to get the kids or what’s for dinner…
4. Sending each other pictures of fun stuff (only appropriate stuff!).
5. Sending affirmations, “warm-fuzzes” and “just thinking of you” are always okay and encouraged.
6. Only handle conflicts face to face; take texting off the table when it comes to disagreements about things.

The Don’ts:

1. Never use texting to settle the argument from the night before, or anytime for that matter.
2. Never send criticisms, jabs or hateful messages.
3. If it takes more than a sentence or two to say what you want to say, you should probably call or wait until you are face to face.
4. Never complain about your spouse to others in a text message or pull someone else in to help you “win” the argument.
5. If you have saved text messages from past arguments, never use those as future ammunition. That is just not fighting fair! Delete them.
6. Never use texting to have deep or intimate conversations. Save it for when you are face to face.

 Image Source

 One of my favorite things to receive is a screen shot of a meme or cute quote from my sweetie.  Although this act is simple and takes only a few seconds to do, it always brings a smile to my face.   I am amazed at how much one little text message can help me to feel more emotionally connected to my husband.

Katie Secretary shares “14+ text messages to send your hubby” (or your wife) that she sent her husband in celebration of her 14th Wedding anniversary.  I loved the idea of sending the same number of text messages to your sweetheart as the years you’ve been married, to celebrate your wedding anniversary!  Here are some of the messages Katie shared:

  • “You are AMAZING. Just thought you should know”.
  • “How did I get so lucky to have you?”
  • Being with you…is the best!”
  • “Your boss is lucky to have you. I’m proud of how hard you work.”
  • “I LOVE being your wife.” (You could switch “wife” for “husband”)
  • “I love you to the moon and back.”
  • “You’re my hero!”
  • “I’m having one of those days that make me realize how lost I’d be without you…Just wanted to let you know.”
  • “I had a dream about you and I woke up smiling…”
  • “I thought about you and it made me smile.”
  • “Our kids are so blessed to have a dad like you.” (replace “dad” with “mom”)
  • “I feel safe with you.”
  • “I thought about you and it made me smile.”
  • Tell your spouse 3 reasons you appreciate them today

One app that I enjoy using is Bitmoji.  This app allows you to design an avatar that looks like you, which makes the text message you send that much more personal.

Here are a few I’ve sent to my husband:


If you avoid the “don’ts” of texting and follow the “do’s” you can find creative and exciting ways of improving your communication with your spouse through the wonderful world of technology.  The next time you are checking your e-mail or Facebook page on your phone, take a few moments to send your spouse a message, letting them know you are thinking about them and how much you love them.

Feature Image Credit


Fire Proof Your Marriage: Part 4

“Love is Accountable”

Are their behaviors in your relationship with your partner that are unhealthy or not in the best interest of your marriage?  How do you handle those behaviors?  Do you judge, punish, or try to force your spouse to change?  Do you have personal accountability in your marriage?

Image Source

In the article Love Essentially:  Relationships hinge on accountability Jackie Pilossoph  says “Every couple fights…But the distinguishing factor between working together versus calling it quits comes down to one word:  accountability.”

Taking accountability is being able to admit you are at fault and then apologizing.  This sounds so simple, right?  If you are anything like me,  admitting that I am wrong and using the words “I’m sorry” make me feel like I have lost a battle. Admitting that I’m wrong is like pulling teeth!

Image Source

What can I do to get past my unwillingness to take accountability for my wrongs in my relationship?

Pilossoph says, “It takes courage to engage in retrospection, humility and true honesty.  Accountability means taking a hard look in the mirror and owning up to a problem you caused or contributed to.  Further more, it means having the guts to attempt to fix what you did, either by asking for help or applying the discipline to change the behavior.”

Confessions of a Terrible Husband:  Lessons Learned from a Lumpy Couch gives several tips “to help you, and your spouse become accountable to each other”:

  1. Identify areas of your life and marriage you both need accountability for.
  2. Let each other know about these areas, and discuss them.
  3. Ask your spouse to keep you accountable.
  4. Let them review and assess the areas you need accountability for.
  5. Make your home a safe environment for accountability.
  6. Be quiet and listen when your spouse is talking.
  7. Be honest with the constructive feedback you give, and receive each other’s feedback with enthusiasm. Feedback will allow you to access what you might be doing wrong.

Image Source

It can be really, really hard to admit we are wrong in our marriage, but admitting we are wrong, not only leads to more trust and understanding but it makes you a hero.  My “Love Dare” for you is to stop trying to find blame and fault in your spouse but to be more willingly to step up, take accountability and apologize for any wrongs you have done.  As you do this you will create more harmony in your home and find more joy in your marriage.

Feature Image Credit


Fire Proof Your Marriage: Part 3

“Love Fights Fair”

Image Source

I don’t know how it goes for you when you get in an argument with your spouse, but for me it’s usually about having one “winner” and one “loser” at the end of it.  Is this truly the way we should be approaching a “fight”?  Are there healthy ways to resolve our disagreements where you both feel good about the outcome?

In the article “Fighting Fair in A Relationship:  How to Get What You Need and Stay Close While You Do It,” Karen Young talks about 19  “do’s” and “don’ts”  about fight fair:

  1. Don’t Fear Conflict
  •   When you are in a devoted and close relationship conflict will exist.  Conflict is how you are able to learn from and see each other’s side on issues.  Not seeing eye-to-eye is “normal, healthy, and sometimes necessary when there is something important at stake for both of you.”
  1.  Attack the Issue, Not Each Other
  •  In the heat of the moment it can be easy to say things that we can’t take back.  “Don’t name call or bring the other person down to get on top of the argument.”  Sometimes it is good to take a “timeout” from the argument for a few minutes, to regroup and rejoin the conversation when both of you are less emotional and able to think more clearly.
  1.  Stay with the Issue at Hand
  •  How many times have you rehashed old issues in order to win?  I have been guilty of this myself.  This just leads to more contention and less problem solving.  “It’s the quickest way to send an argument off track and land you in a place you forget what you were fighting for.”
  1.  Don’t Confuse the Topics with the Issue
  •  Often times when we begin arguing with our spouse other issues that have been unresolved come up.  You may start arguing about the topic of leaving the toilet seat up and for some reason that leads back in to the unsettled issue of rising credit card debt.   “If you keep fighting over different things but you always seem to end up on the same issue (e.g. money or the night he/you came home late), that issue is actually where your work needs to be…Give what’s needed for the issue to let go of the grip it has on your relationship…”
  1.  Don’t Downplay the Issue
  • Ignoring a problem does not make it go away! “If feelings or needs aren’t resolved, the will come out through other topics.”
  1. Don’t’ Withdraw, or Chase
  • It can be easy to put up our defensive walls when we are feeling attacked and refuse to engage in an argument.  It can also be easy to pursue the argument if we are feeling ignored.  “One way to change that is to name your contribution to the issue… ‘I know I probably haven’t helped things by…’ or, ‘I know I upset you when I…’ This makes it easier for your partner to trust that you aren’t only out for blood.”
  1.  Be Open, Nobody Can Read Your Mind
  • How much easier would it be if we could read minds!?!  How many times have you had a disagreement expecting your spouse to already know what is wrong without being told? Guilty!  “Research has shown that people who expect a partner to mind read are more likely to feel anxious or neglected.”
  1.  Find the Real Emotion beneath the Anger
  •  In my own marriage I find that it is easy to accuse each other of being angry.  That is the “go to” emotion to turn too.  “But anger is a secondary emotion—it never exists on its own and always has another emotion beneath it.”  If you can get to the real emotion being expressed you will have more success in responding to your partners true concern.
  1.  Be Attentive
  • There is nothing worse than feeling like your spouse is not listening to you.  Having the television on during an argument in our house is sure to lead to one of us feeling like the other isn’t listening.  Give your spouse you undivided attention, no matter what!
  1. Don’t Yell
  • “If the argument is at yelling point, nobody is being heard because nobody is listening. At this point, someone needs to be the hero and calm it all down.”
  1.  Stay Away from ‘You Always’ or ‘You Never’
  • “Nobody is ‘always’ or ‘never’ anything and using these words will just inflame.”
  1.  Be Curious
  • If you aren’t asking for details than you are probably trying to come up with a rebuttal.  This type of strategy leads you nowhere fast!  “Slow things down and ask for details. This shows that you’re open to getting things sorted out.”
  1. Honestly Accept that Nobody is Perfect
  •  I have the hardest time accepting criticism but I can be really good at dishing it out.  This may be because of how my spouse is sending the message or because I am unwilling to accept that I have flaws.  “If you are the one with the wise words, say it in a way that can be heard by being generous in the delivery.”
  1.  Watch out for the Passive-Aggressive
  • ‘I’m just being honest …’, or ‘I’m not criticizing you but …’ or ‘You’re probably not going to like hearing this but …’
  1.  If You’re Wrong, Apologize
  2. If You’re Going around in Circles, Stop
  • If you feel like you are on a merry-go-round, saying the same things over and over again “slow things down and communicate to your partner your understanding of their side of things…try finding a different way to say it and check you aren’t too much on the attack.”
  1.  Find Common Ground
  •  Many times my husband and I end an argument with agreeing to disagree.  “Anything that will help to get you both back on the same team is a good thing.”
  1.  Give in or Compromise
  • “Any small concession is the groundwork for bigger ones.”
  1.  Don’t leave it unfinished
  • “Find a resolution, otherwise it will continue to press for closure.”
Image Source

The next time you feel like putting on those boxing gloves when you are fighting with your spouse, remember that a house divided against itself does not stand!  Talk with your spouse about setting rules of engagement went it comes to fighting fair and stick to those rules, no matter what!

Feature Image Credit


Part II: The Four Horsemen

As mentioned in my previous post, arguments and/or disagreements are bound to happen in every marriage and every relationship. There are certain negative things that should be avoided when communicating during an argument or disagreement. The Four Horsemen are four major things that should be avoided, so major that they get their very own post. They are four things that if they begin seeping into your marriage and building on one another, they can be lethal. The Four Horsemen are:

  1.     Criticism
  2.     Contempt
  3.     Defensiveness
  4.     Stonewalling

Criticism. A criticism and a complaint are two very different things. Most couples in perfectly healthy and happy relationships have plenty of complaints about their spouse or partner. A complaint focuses on a specific behavior or event. A criticism, however, is far more dangerous and damaging. A criticism is directed towards the character or personality of your spouse or partner. In other words, it is a direct attack on the person themselves. When one spouse starts criticizing the other, they really aren’t trying to resolve any problems or work anything out, they are just being mean and making things worse. For example, I may complain that my husband hasn’t helped with the dishes for a week, but a criticism would be calling him a lazy pig for not helping with the dishes. As you can see, one is an attack on his behavior, the other on him as a person.

Contempt. Contempt comes from a sense of superiority over your spouse. It is a form of disrespect and conveys disgust. When one spouse has contempt for the other, the main goal of an argument is to demean their spouse and make the point that they are better than them. There is no desire to resolve an argument, just prove that they are superior. Contempt can only be healed by humility.

Defensiveness. It is natural, when being attacked, to want to defend yourself. However, when in an argument, being defensive has never worked or helped resolve the argument. Defensiveness usually just escalates the conflict and can come across as putting blame on your partner. For example, if my husband approached me about how I didn’t make the bed for the last week and I just retorted with an excuse that I was in a big hurry and hardly had any time to brush my teeth let alone make the bed. Although that may be true, me defending my actions, or lack thereof, doesn’t resolve the problem of the unmade bed. You can see how with more detrimental problems that being defensive can be very counterproductive and extremely unhelpful when trying to resolve those problems.

Stonewalling. A stonewaller doesn’t give any kind of feedback to the speaker during a conversation. They look away, avoiding eye contact, ignoring the person speaking and not paying attention to anything they are saying. Once one spouse begins stonewalling, they check out of the conversation. There is no point in carrying on an argument because it will not get anywhere when one or both spouses are stonewalling. Tensions will just rise and anger will escalate. No one enjoys having a conversation with someone who is ignoring them or not giving them their full attention, and that lack of enjoyment gets even worse when that conversation is an argument.

Criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling are a deadly combination. As each one seeps into a marriage they inflict a lot of damage, especially when in a disagreement or argument with your spouse. In the third and final post of this series you will learn about what positive communication techniques you can use that will help you to overcome and avoid the Four Horsemen and by so doing, develop the art of arguing well. Stay tuned!

Resource: Gottman, J. M., & Silver, N. (2015). The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Harmony Books.
Image Source

The Four Horsemen

Good communication helps marriages thrive! When communication suffers, so may the marriage. Dr. John Gottman introduced the Four Horsemen, which are different communication styles that impact effective communication. The Four Horsemen written by Ellie Lisitsa (from the Gottman Institute), helps us understand Gottman’s research of the four horsemen.

The Four Horsemen are:





Being able to understand and identify these different styles of communication can help your own communication with your spouse!

Criticism: There is a big difference between complaining and criticizing. When you criticize your partner, you are basically “attacking” their character. Some common words used to criticize are: “you always” or “you never.” Here is an example of the difference between complaining and criticizing…

Criticizing your spouse can cause them to feel attacked, rejected, unloved, and unappreciated. As you begin to use this horsemen in your communication with your spouse, it can lead to the other horsemen.

Contempt: This communication style puts you “above” your spouse. Contempt includes sarcasm, mocking, name-calling, rolling your eyes, ridicule, etc. Contempt is one of the more serious horesemen. Contempt in marriages can decrease connection and admiration with your spouse, which are crucial in marriages. Ellie Lisitsa (from the Gottman Institute) stated the following about contempt:

“In his four decades of research, Dr. Gottman has found contempt to be the #1 predictor of divorce. What is contempt, and what makes this horseman the worst? The horseman of contempt carries with it a poison that seeps into our interactions, turning them into something ugly and toxic.”

Defensiveness: Most of us are guilty of this one! When we are defensive to our partner we are making excuses for our actions. We are defending ourselves from an attack. From personal experience, defensiveness never works. It is just a way to get our spouse off our backs. By taking responsibility for our actions, progression and positive change can occur!

Stonewalling: This is when the listener in a conversation withdraws and shuts down. There is little interaction or responsiveness. That person either leaves the conversation physically or mentally. If the listener is overwhelmed, it can cause them to do this. However, to the other partner, it can come across as if they do not care enough about the situation to interact or respond.

Personally, when there have been times when I have felt overwhelmed in a conversation, I simply ask my spouse if we can discuss it later so I can have a break. This method has been very helpful in situations, and can avoid further conflict.

Learning about the Four Horsemen has really benefited my own marriage. Being able to identify them is a great way to learn how to avoid them. Using the four horsemen do not show our spouse we love them in any way. Conflict is normal, but it’s the way we handle them that counts!

Photo Credit: Gottman Institute


Part I: The Art of Arguing Well

“Every marriage is a union of individuals who bring to it their own opinions, personality, quirks, and values. So it’s no wonder that even in very happy marriages spouses must cope with a profusion of marital issues” (Gottman & Silver, 2015).

When it comes to marriage, it is inevitable that there will be disagreements. Just as the quote above explains, a marriage is made up of two different people who have different thoughts, ideas, opinions, and everything. In order to make sure these inevitable disagreements and issues do not hurt the marriage, it is essential that both spouses learn to communicate well, and by so doing, argue well.

Communication is key to every relationship and a huge part of communication is the art of arguing well. Everyone argues, that is normal. What makes the difference is the way in which you argue. If a couple can avoid arguing in a destructive manner by communicating positively and efficiently, it can make a world of difference in a marriage. I will even so far as to say it could save a marriage.

So what should be avoided when it comes to arguing? In his book, “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work”, John Gottman mentions five signs of negative communication that diminishes marital happiness. They are:

  1. Harsh Startup
  2. The Four Horsemen
  3. Flooding
  4. Body Language
  5. Failed Repair Attempts

A Harsh Startup refers to immediate negative and accusatory remarks at the beginning of the conversation or argument. Harsh startups doom you to communication failure! It could be anything from calling your spouse a name to saying a phrase that triggers tension between you and your spouse.

I will go further into the Four Horsemen in my next post in this series, but to summarize, the Four Horsemen refer to certain kinds of negativity that, if allowed to run rampant, are lethal to any relationship. More specifically, these certain kinds of negativity are criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling.

Flooding refers to what happens when one spouse’s negativity is so intense and overwhelming that it leaves their partner shell shocked. This leads their partner to completely check out of the conversation.

Failed Repair Attempts happen when one spouse attempts to help the situation or make things right or calm their other spouse down and fails. Sometimes these attempts not only fail, but when they fail they could make the argument and situation worse.

You would do well to avoid these five things. All of these things have something in common: they will not help you resolve your issues or disagreements or arguments with your spouse, they will only make them worse.


Resource: Gottman, J. M., & Silver, N. (2015). The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Harmony Books.
Image Source

Communication in Marriage Part 5

Since communication can often times make it or break it in a marriage, I decided to put together a list of simple tips and ideas that can help improve your communication skills with your spouse.

  • Say what you mean and mean what you say
  • Exchange competition for communication
  • If a disagreement arises,explain what’s bothering you in a non-accusatory manner
  • Express your wants and needs clearly
  • Never respond when you are angry
  • Use more “I” statements and less “You” statements
  • Listen and don’t interrupt when your spouse is talking
  • Don’t bring up the past
  • Empathize with your spouse
  • Watch your tone
  • Avoid mind-reading
  • Express positive feelings


Take time to work on these tips and maybe even add things to your own list. No one is perfect, but we can show our spouse that we care by trying our best to communicate effectively.