Do you know what the most important aspect of a healthy marriage is? We believe it’s communication. Learn how to talk, listen and respond in a God-glorifying way and your marriage is sure to not only survive, but thrive.
We often say that communication is the soil in which all the other intimacies grow: spiritual, intellectual, emotional and physical.
How well do you communicate? What does good communication require?
1. It requires listening to understand.
If you regularly disagree over insignificant matters it may be that you are not really listening to each other. Listening takes discipline to stop what you’re doing and pay attention to your spouse. Looking at your smart phone while your spouse is talking is not listening with the intent of understanding what they are saying.
2. It requires trust.
Hearing what your spouse is saying and understanding their reason for saying it requires a level of trust and confidence that many marriages lack. If you tend to judge and evaluate the reason your spouse said what they said there may be distrust of their motives lurking in your communication. Gary Thomas calls this tendency being a prosecuting attorney who is looking for what our spouse has done wrong and charges them as guilty, rather than the physician who is there to heal and help your spouse be the best they can be.
3. It requires time.
Good communication doesn’t happened as we are passing each other on the way to our different obligations. It happens when we purpose to slow down taking the time to ask good questions to fully hear what our spouse is saying.
4. It requires vulnerability.
Being vulnerable with your spouse often takes years of cultivating the other aspects of healthy communication first. I’ll never forget the time God asked me to share some very heart-disclosing struggles I was having with Tom. I hesitated because I thought he would laugh at me, because he is unlike me in this area. However, I discovered the exact opposite; he listened, cared for me and helped me push through the struggle. Could it be that our enemy knows this and will do all he can to prevent us from being vulnerable in our communication?
This list is not exhaustive by any means. What keys have you found helpful in promoting healthy communication in your marriage?
You’re so right!
Another part of communication is understanding the paradigm by which one’s mate lives. That of my wife is ‘thrive’; mine is ‘survive’. It’s brought into sharper focus no that I am terminally ill, but in truth, it was always there.
It’s really incumbent upon me to understand her point of view, because the experiences that shaped mine – like, lots of people who very personally wanted to kill me in countries that aren’t on tourist maps – are not accessible to her. She’ll never know (I hope) the wonderful warm-fuzzy of finding cover in a concrete-lined sewage ditch (yes, brim-full), and knowing that the bad people can’t, for the moment, shoot you…but I can and must try to understand why it’s important to have an up-to-date Smart Phone, and why essential oils really are essential.
It would be easy to be condescending – MY paradigm is more REAL, after all! – but condescension and communication cannot coexist, and my ‘moral high ground’ is simply an accident of circumstance.
I really enjoyed your post!
Effective communication is really the key to a happy and successful relationship.
An additional aspect of communication is being direct with your spouse. Often we expect our spouses to anticipate our needs. We then get disappointed when those needs go unfulfilled. Rather than being direct with our needs / expectations, we expect the other to be a mind reader. This is type of behavior is not fair to our spouse.
Steve, I’m so glad you added this vital part of healthy communication. Once we realize how different we are it helps us own our responsibility to tell each other in an honest and “direct” way what we need or want. This keeps us from playing these mind games that like you say “aren’t fair.” Dropping hints don’t usually work either.
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