"We're not great at communicating. Many of our conversations end in a fight. Or worse, we both shut down, stop talking and nothing ever gets resolved. How can we communicate better so that we never lose the spark?" -Sonia, Alaska
Great question, Sonia. There are a few things that are absolutely critical when you're talking to your spouse...
The first is to always try to be gentle and kind. We expect our spouses to be compassionate and nice to us, so do your best to do this.
Always try to listen to your spouse's perspective and find something (anything!) to agree with. People need to feel understood. Make your spouse feel like you have heard him and you understand where he's coming from. Only when people feel heard and understood will they listen to you (or your perspective).
Avoid blaming and criticizing your spouse, this will make him defensive and upset. And when you can, say something reassuring to your spouse, like, "Honey, I am on your side, I want to figure this out with you." That will help smooth things over.