How to Communicate with Your Spouse: “Self-Disclosure Theory”

I know what I’m about to say is probably going to sound obvious: if you want to know how to communicate with your spouse effectively, then it’s important to be an open book and express how you’re feeling!

how to communicate with your spouse

But there’s actually an entire theory and body of literature based around this idea that he happiest relationship is the one where people talk about how they’re feeling…both positive and negative!

I know you’ve heard it a million times, but if you want to know how to communicate with your spouse, you need to be able to speak up when something’s wrong…

But I think some couples also struggle with taking the time to talk about what’s going right. Talking about successes, happy things, complimenting each other…and just generally making sure that they share the love!!

So being open and communicative isn’t just about nicely airing your grievances with your spouse… but also about talking about your feelings on life in general, both positive and negative. Not just the ones related to your relationship. If you’re feeling sad about something random, don’t be afraid to bring it up to your spouse. If you’re feeling happy about something random, don’t leave your spouse out of those positive conversations!

It sounds like a “duh,” but are there certain things you happily gush about with your girlfriends and leave your husband out of? Stop doing that!

If you’re really interested in the psychology side, then where this theory first came from is Irwin Altman and Dalmas Taylor, in 1973. Their theory is about how shallow acquaintance relationships develop into more intimate, close relationships.

You might think, “Well, people talk to each other more and spend more time together. Then they figure out they really like each other. And that’s how the relationship gets closer.”

But it’s actually a little more interesting than that, which is what prompted me to write this post:

The relationship gets closer because of reciprocal sharing of personal details. Have you ever tried to date that one person who just won’t tell you anything about personal stuff or how they’re feeling? And you couldn’t keep dating them because you never knew how they felt or where they stood?

Both people need to be emotionally vulnerable, and share their feelings openly, or the relationship is just not going to succeed!

I know some people have trouble sharing their emotions, and there are those people who maybe are just not emotional. But they still have to be able to find a way to show how they feel. This is exactly where my earlier blog post on Love Languages comes in!

If someone isn’t good at showing their emotions through words, they can show it through their actions, whether that’s acts of service, writing a poem, giving a meaningful and heartfelt gift… Even though not everyone is emotional, relationship success is based on mutually, consistently sharing how you feel. Like I said, there are many ways of doing that, other than through words. In fact, why don’t you and your partner take the Love Languages quiz right now?

If you’re both sitting on the couch right now, then turn to them and say, “Hey babe, I want to try a fun relationship exercise based on Altman & Taylor’s psychological theory from 1973!!”

And that’s the answer to how to communicate with your spouse effectively! Okay, maybe don’t say it to them exactly like that. 😉