COMMUNICATION IN MARRIAGE
There are ways to improve the quality of one’s communication. Genuineness, empathy, and respect on the part of both the speaker and the listener are vital to improving communication in marriage. In addition to these principles, here are some techniques and suggestions for effective conversation:
Spend More Time Talking
A happy marriage is a long conversation which always seems too short. André Maurois
- Consider the amount of time you as a couple spend together. According to Dr. Richard Swenson, author of Margin, found that many couples spend an average of only four minutes a day in meaningful conversation.
Don’t Allow Anything to Interfere with Your Conversations
- If you are overloaded with responsibilities, examine your commitments and determine where your priorities should be.
- Make time to communicate. Instead of filling your time with phone calls, television, shopping trips, sports, friends, and other activities, spend time talking with your spouse.
- Don’t allow anger or bitterness to keep you from communicating. If you shut out your partner, you do yourself and your marriage a great disservice.
Be Careful with Nonverbal Communication
- Couples are constantly sending messages, positive or negative, even when no words are being said. Therefore, you must work effectively to control your negative communication.
- For instance, a man comes home from work and says nothing. He may be thinking that he is communicating respect in that he is not bothering his wife. Therefore, his wife may perceive him as being elusive and cold.
- Conversely, the casual shrug of the shoulders of a wife may be her way of saying, “I’m not sure,” but her spouse may interpret it as, “I’m not very impressed by you” or “These things aren’t important to me.”
- Married couples must make every attempt to keep their intentions and their language clear.
- Criticism. Criticism is sometimes packaged as a question that implies the other person has a character flaw: “Why do you always do that? You never do what you say you’re going to do. This is just another example of how I can’t count on you for anything.”
- Defensiveness. When we receive criticism, it’s easy to retaliate with countercriticism: “What do you mean I never do what I say? What about the dishes? Is that all you can do, whine and complain?
- Contempt. When criticism and defensiveness are ratcheted up several notches, they can lead to derogatory remarks, put-downs, and extreme disrespect. Not mowing the grass can lead to “You make me sick! You never do what you say you’ll do. I’ll just do everything myself.”
- Stonewalling. When the intensity gets too strong, a person can shut down and decide he or she will no longer participate in the conversation. This would, understandably, drive the other spouse crazy, intensifying rage and setting up the battle for another round of criticism.
Be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath. James 1:19
Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. Ephesians 4:31
In marriage, when one person becomes angry, the conversation quickly moves from constructive to destructive. The passage from James underlines the importance of keeping your cool in communication. Couples need to remember that listening to their spouse is just as important as having their spouse listen to them.
Do not lie to one another. Colossians 3:9
Speaking the truth in love … grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ. Ephesians 4:15
Always be truthful. In a manner that will show love and not to condemn or hurt a spouse.
Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another. James 5:16
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32
Occasionally we will hurt, disappoint, and wrong our spouse. Therefore, we must be open enough to admit we are not perfect and confess these wrongs. Having tenderhearted forgiveness is to restore the marital bond after times of difficulty, mercy and grace are imperative. Communication in marriage is the glue to endurance. As stated before, the speaker and the listener are vital to improving communication.