Marital communication is one of the most important elements of any marriage relationship. Indeed communication is so important in any relationship. We can actually find ourselves speaking different languages to one another.
That's why we often hear the statement, “I just don’t understand him" or "I just don't understand her".. The best resources I know of on this subject are the two books, The Five Love Languages and The Art of Apology both Dr. Gary Chapman.
In both of these wonderful books, Dr. Chapman expounds on the way each of us hears love and how to apologize to one another. I won’t try to rewrite these excellent works (as if I could), but I will encourage you to buy the books. It is a must-read for marriage and any other relationship you have. Invest in your marriage.
A Few Marital Communication Tips
Just to give you a few tips on communicating, I would first say, try to take the emotion out of your disagreements. Talk to each other in a tone that will cause your spouse to want to hear you. By the way, there is a difference between listening and hearing.
We can listen all day but never really hear what the other person is saying. Listening can sometimes be like the television being on in the background and many things are said that you don’t actually hear. There may be one word that you do hear and when you come closer to the television and focus, you find that you hear it all wrong.
That's the way many of us communicate. We tune out while the other person is talking just waiting for them to shut up so we can say what we want them to know. We miss the heart or the spirit of what is being said and we hear what we want to.
A Practical Marital Communication Exercise
A little exercise Ronnie and I do is to take a small object like a stick of gum or an eraser - I don’t recommend ash trays, knives, shoes or any other "sharps" or "throw-ables" for obvious reasons.
First of all decide that you are going to talk to settle some issue, one issue at a time.
Turn the television and everything off and give each other your undivided attention (You would think I wouldn’t have to tell adults that, but we do).
Then, decide who will talk first. That person holds the object and begins to speak - the listening spouse cannot interrupt for any reason.
If something is said that you don’t agree with, write one word - on a piece of paper you have - that will remind you of what was said that you may not have agreed with, and continue to listen.
Hear your spouse out without preparing what you are going to say next. You are giving them respect and you are learning patience because your turn will come.
If you have the floor, before you relinquish the object, make sure your spouse understands clearly what you have said by asking them if they do understand. They should answer yes or no.
Then you give them the object and you will be able to see if they understood or not. Remember, as much as possible, keep the emotions out of the exchange. Now it is your turn to be patient and hear your spouse. This goes back and forth as long as it takes.
It may take you several tries at this but if you keep at it you will become experts and won’t have to hold the object anymore because you will have learned patience and respect for your partner’s right and need to express themselves, whether you agree or not, without interruption and out-of-control rebuttal.
The Dark Side of Marital Communication
In the book about Our Story, Love that would not Let Me Go (Opens in new window), you get to see some of the unfortunate course of events that can unfold when negative marital communication is allowed to persist. Invest the time and effort in your marriage to make sure that's not the case with you.
When the two of you can successfully communicate and hear one another, no matter what the economy or the world outside is doing or saying, you can work through anything and stick together, if you really want to. Keep in mind through Christ, All things are possible to him/her who believes.