I think most couples would agree that a central trait of a great marriage or relationship is communication. And yet, talking, listening and being understood is a common struggle with most couples. It’s safe to say that communication is an area that most couples would like to improve. Have you ever said or heard?
“It seems like all we ever do is argue when there’s a pressing issue!”
“Why doesn’t he listen to me?”
“He gets so angry when I challenge him.”
“She always wants to know how I feel even after I tell her I’m fine.”
Wives often want a husband who can just sit down and listen not just with his ears but with his heart. Someone who can completely appreciate their emotions and views . Husbands typically want to reason, maybe even give a lecture, and fix the problem. In this kind of situation, the wives may sometimes feel that they are talking to a wall. Husbands may believe that wives aren’t interested in their opinions and therefore not respected. Eventually, couples may stop sharing many of their feelings and thoughts. Thus, it becomes necessary for them to learn how to communicate in a different manner.
George Bernard Shaw had keen insight into relationships when he wrote, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
If you’ve ever had a problem with communication within your relationships, don’t feel isolated or discouraged, you are not alone. Above all, don’t feel like communicating with your spouse or partner is a lost cause. Here are a few tips that have helped me become a better communicator.
Understanding is enhanced if we measure it often throughout a conversation. Mirroring helps test whether you are hearing your spouse properly. Once your spouse makes a point, repeat it to him or her. Say something like this: "So, what I hear you saying is …" or, "Are you saying … ?" Then, in your own words, tell your spouse what you understood. Then, the most important part of mirroring comes. You must allow your spouse to either affirm or correct what you've said. Ask questions instead of trying to problem solve. Get your partner to open up and tell you the problems they’re experiencing.
Experts believe communication can be divided into five levels:
- Level of acquaintance
- Sharing of information
- Sharing of ideas
- Sharing of emotions
- Gut level sharing
Some partners expect their spouses to go from level 1 sharing to level 5. It’s not going to happen! When your partner comes home after a hard day at work, the timing for a conversation about a pressing money issue, might be wrong. Bringing up a deeply held belief about politics before bed might get a yawn. It takes time for most people to share deep emotions, so don’t expect your mate to jump right into the details of a traumatic event when you ask them what is wrong. Meaningful conversations take time, effort, and lots of questions. Good listeners must work to develop trust.
Timing is everything:
If you want to have a courageous conversation, have a plan for discussion. Author Chris Hogan, a relationship expert, has laid out a body of material focused on a series of ten questions. It may sound rigid to some people, but when you need to share a pressing issue, it helps to have a structured format to share within. Here are some of the questions.
- What is your most pressing issue
- How is this affecting you?
- When you feel that way how do you act
- What will the future be like if nothing changes?
- What do you see as my responsibility for this issue?
One important aspect of material like Chris Hogan’s involves the role of the speaker and listener. Done correctly, effective listening helps couples steer clear of conflicts because the listener is seeking to help the speaker share and is focused on understanding the pressing issue. It sounds easy, but it’s not.
Another important skill in communication is prayer. Success in communication is more likely when we invite God to be an active participant and guide. Having a time of prayer before you have a challenging conversation can give you crucial insight when you need it most. As it says in Psalm 19:14, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.”
Another way to gain help with pressing issues you might be having is participate in a marriage conference. Join me and a team of facilitators and discover how to better communicate with your spouse.
Date/Time Date(s) - Friday, October 2, 2015 - Saturday, October 3, 2015
Location Crossroads Bible Church