In these next few consecutive blogs I would like to address one of the greatest causes of divorce in our country and perhaps offer some guidance while helping you stay on the matrimonial road. Poor communication skills destroy families every day, let’s begin with a story…
You can imagine the scene. Husband is sitting on the sofa enjoying his midseason ritual. It’s a close game. The score is 6-7 and a man is on third base, edging to come home. “What’s that noise?” Here comes the right fielder, his turn at bat, and the pitch. Ground ball between the first and second basemen, quickly picked up, and the ball is feverishly thrown home. To no avail; the guy on third slides into home plate and is safe! The husband wonders, What is that low annoying murmur? The catcher throws the ball to first, again too little too late. Safe! The score is now tied, 7-7. Up to the plate comes the short stop, the guy’s got a powerful swing. With increasing irritation, the husband mutters, “There it goes again.” The pitcher winds up and throws; it looks like it’s going to be right in there. The swing and a hit. Crack! A good solid hit. It’s going, going, going… That sound again, like a hive full of bees swarming in my head. Why won’t it stop!
This scene captures what it’s like when some wives try to communicate with their husbands. It doesn’t have to be an important ballgame, it could be just about anything—anything that’s given priority over communication between a husband and wife. Incidentally, the roles in this scenario and the specifics can easily be reversed, lest we think men are the only guilt culprits of poor communication. We are now going to examine the fine art of hearing and being heard by our spouse.
A variety of issues can interfere with effective communication in one’s marriage. They can derive from extended family interference, friendship interference, issues of guilt and shame, faulty perceptions of God, family of origin issues, an ex-spouse, lies a person believes about themselves, and many, many other things. Every one of these issues can cause cracks in the dynamics of communication.
It’s funny how many parents demand excellent listening skills from their children yet fail to demonstrate them in their own marriage relationship. Again, we are called to be an example to our children. When your spouse wants to talk with you and share how they feel about a particular issue, show your love for them by making it important to you. If you have something to say, you expect their attention. Agree to talk after the children go to bed, turn off the television, put down the newspaper, stop clipping coupons, just stop. Eliminate outside distractions so that you are in a state to hear what your spouse has to say.
Body language says a lot about your interest in the other. Turn toward your spouse, use eye contact, and show your interest. Husbands, if it seems your wife is agitated, take her hand and sit with her. There is a great calming effect in human touch, even if you are the cause of her aggravation.
For many of us who have never spent much time thinking about such things, this seems very awkward. Just because something seems awkward does not mean it is wrong. Many of the things discussed in these next few blogs will take time to develop into a level of comfort, but do them anyway. Remember, at this point it’s not about doing what’s comfortable (that’s what’s gotten us into trouble to begin with)—it’s about doing what is right.
Let’s identify some of the impediments to healthy communication in your relationship. You and your spouse each get a sheet of paper. Draw a half-dollar size circle in the middle of a sheet of paper then write “my marriage” inside the circle. The circle represents you and your mate. Take a couple of minutes and write down around your circle the circumstances, situations, people, or anything else that create roadblocks to communication in your marriage. As you place these deterrents on the chart, put them in proximity to how much impact they have on your relationship. The items with greater impact will be placed closer to your marriage circle (if very severe negative impact you may even put it within the circle), and the items with lesser impact will be placed farther from the circle. After you both have completed your chart, share it with your spouse
and compare charts. Make a list of the similarities you found between your chart and your spouse’s chart.
It is very important to isolate these interferences and develop methods to combat their negative impact on your communication. In the case of a meddling father-in-law, a solution might be to set up boundaries and limit the family’s exposure to him. Another solution might be to have the son sit down with his father and set him straight. What action steps can you take to minimize the impact these interferences will have on your communication in the future?
In the next post we will continue to address communication and focus on what culture has done to inhibit male communication as well as how transparency can cause communication to blossom.
Be blessed until next time!
©2018 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design
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