By Wendy Castellanos, VP of Marketing for AMIGA

Once upon a time, there was a woman who set out a towel for her morning shower each night. When she awoke, she was very angry to find that her husband had taken the towel for himself. He thought his wife was being extra sweet by leaving him a towel. This continued until the woman finally decided instead of being angry, she would set out 2 towels every night. It worked like a charm, her husband had a fresh towel to use and so did she.  Moral of the story: communication goes a long way. 


Here are 5 simple rules to communicate better and ways to take action TODAY.  

1. Be Timely. 

Did your spouse just walk in the door? Just wake up? Just deal with a stressful situation? Make sure that you're in tune with what is going on at the moment and that you're picking a time where you have their full attention. 

TAKE ACTION: Before launching into talking about your day right when you get home, take a moment to kiss your spouse. Greet him with an "I love you" and "I would love to hear about your day."  


2. Teach By Example. 

None of us like being yelled or snapped at. Tone is key; it's not what you say, it's how you say it. Our relationships should be our safe havens. Who doesn't love to be complimented? Who doesn't want to be thanked for a job that we "should" do like doing the dishes or taking out the garbage?   

TAKE ACTION: Pull out your phone and (1) thank your spouse for something s/he did that you appreciate and (2) give him/her a compliment.  

For example, "Thank you so much for taking out the trash last night. I appreciate everything you do for our family." Then follow that up with, "Btw, you were looking hot in that black sweater. :-)" 


3. Listen up, Buttercup. 

A key part of effective communication is listening. What? Huh? Instead of preparing a snarky comeback or thinking of what you'll say next, take the time to really listen. Wouldn't you want your spouse to do the same? 

TAKE ACTION: Put the cell phone down and listen. Really, actively listen and acknowledge what your spouse is saying. Use phrases like "Tell me more" to encourage your spouse to elaborate.  


4. Practice empathy. 

Put yourself in your spouse's shoes and try to understand where they're coming from. Remember to assume good intentions. In the story above, it was easy for the woman to assume her husband was vindictively stealing her towel which was not the case. The poor guy just thought his wife was doing something nice for him. Be empathetic. 

TAKE ACTION: Be on your spouse's side. Validate his/her perspective. Is he/she complaining about something? Chime in with a "You're right, that's not fair," or even an, "I am sorry you had to go through that." 


5. Be truthful and open. 

This one comes from my husband <insert smirk>. When your spouse asks how you feel, avoid vague answers like "everything is okay" and "nothing is wrong." If you're not ready to talk about it, that's fine but tell your spouse that. Saying that nothing is wrong won't get you anywhere. 

TAKE ACTION: Speak your mind and share your true feelings. If that feels uncomfortable, try writing your spouse a letter explaining how you feel.