4 Keys to Improving Communication In Marriage
One of the most important pillars by far in any relationship is communication. And when I say "any" relationship I mean ALL relationships—whether that be friendships, working relationships, and of course marriage. Arguably, the nature of marriage may require greater communication skills than any other relationship because the success of the marriage is determined by two people's ability to intertwine their individual lives into one. Listen, that is simply not possible without great communication. The whole ‘two becoming one’ thing takes a lot of talking, listening, and understanding in order to create something that, according to natural laws is not even possible! However, it IS possible, and countless couples around the world have evidenced this time and time again by creating beautifully and deeply connected marriages united by love and GREAT communication.
Beyond just talking, communication has a number of layers to understand, accept, and practice. The danger of not doing so is that a couple becomes unable to unite, connect, and work together. Poor communication also has huge ramifications on the couple's intimacy as it erodes trust and friendship. When two people fail to communicate well they can often find that they very quickly begin to drift apart, both feeling unheard, misunderstood, or undervalued. Great communications bring real insight into the deep workings of the other person. It provides an understanding of their intricacies, uniqueness, and thought processes.
But as we know, good communication goes beyond just talking and listening.
Communication is such a huge topic that cannot be covered in one blog. What I want to give you here are 4 key things to remember when it comes to creating healthy and intimacy-developing communication in your love relationship. So let's go ahead and get into it.
Communication should combine freedom with consideration
I'm an advocate for healthy marriages being built on a strong foundation of freedom. I believe that freedom allows a couple to be vulnerable with each other without the fear of judgment. Each member of the union should be free to “be” and to express themselves. However, let's not take things too far. My father once told me that absolute freedom creates chaos. Chaos causes damage and hurts people! You should aim to create lines of communication that are founded on each person being able to speak and express their truth, but this should always rest on a foundation of consideration of the other person and their feelings. There is a fine line between “speaking your truth” and delivering it in a manner, in a tone and at a time when the words received will cause chaos, leading to hurt. This has the potential of completely detracting from the message you were trying to get across, and you're left with the noise of the chaos that your inconsiderate communication created.
Yes, be free. Yes, express yourself. But also be considerate. Is this communication necessary? It is encouraging or glorifying in any way? Does it have an objective of good? What is your desired outcome? Is this the right time and place? Have you considered how this will impact the other person, and is that impact worth it?
Communicate in response, not as a reaction
I couldn’t even attempt to count the number of times Mr. Chiwoko and I have gotten into what I call a tennis match argument, where all we're doing is reacting to the ball of words, whacking it back and forth. No thought, no wisdom. Just a quick reaction. Most of the time, the essence of the conversation (which would quickly turn into an argument) would be get lost in translation because we're both just focused on hitting back. What a load of wasted energy.
In the midst of a heated conversation, we like to convince ourselves that our reactions are somehow involuntary! We can't help the way that we react and have no control over the words that fly out of our mouths, regardless of how fruitless or even damaging they are. Don't worry, I've told myself that lie too.
Yet, if we really think about it, we can all recall situations where we may have heard information that didn't please us, or when we've been in a conversation where our point of view wasn't being accepted, yet we’ve managed to take a moment, consider the best response and delivered it in a calm manner...right? Think about the last tine your boss came at you with displeasing information, and everything within you wanted to react and tell them what you REALLY want them to do with that information. But you didn't... you gathered your thoughts and responded with as much wisdom as you could muster. Why? Because you were aware of the potential dangers of not responding in a calm, wise manner would be. The idea of losing your job and being reprimanded in some way is not one that you would like to entertain.
Imagine what would happen if we held our marriages in the same honour. If we considered the ramifications of just reacting, but rather chose to take a split second to think: What's the best way to respond here? What is this conversation about and what would be the best way to get us to a point of mutual understanding? And even if there is no point of mutual understanding, which is allowed in marriage, how can you agree to disagree in a manner that doesn't create a tense atmosphere in your marriage?
Viktor Frankl, the author of the book Man’s Search for Meaning, said this:
“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our happiness.”
Very true words. Take them on board and consider how your responses can cause you to grow and create more happiness in your marriage.
Communicate with understanding
As a marriage and relationship coach, I work with couples around the world who claim communication is the main thing causing issues in their marriage. They say that they don't know how to talk to each other, or that they feel their spouse doesn't listen to them. I often discover that their greatest issue is their lack of ability to understand each other. I mean really understand each other. I encourage my couples to take time out to consider:
What makes their spouse tick?
What motivates their spouse?
What de-motivates their spouse?
What causes their spouse to be defensive?
What time of the day or in what scenarios is their spouse most open, relaxed, free?
When we switch the spotlight off ourselves and how we feel for a moment, we will find that we actually know the answer to these questions. Then, once you discover the answers, the next stage is for you to actually USE that information in order to encourage great, fruitful conversations. Understanding your spouse at this level will give you the insight that you need to experience healthier, free-flowing, and fulfilling conversations.
Communicate with love, not pride
If you're truly honest, you would have to admit that a lot, if not most of the conversation that we enter into don't often go in a healthy direction because of the 'P' word. That sneaky stinky pride gets in the way of a lot. It causes a selfish, self-centered communication that is carrying defensiveness and self-righteousness in it’s back pockets. When two people are communicating with pride, they often can't hear the other person. I mean really hear them.
They are so wrapped up in themselves that they don't have the ability to introduce perspective into the conversation and so the other person is left feeling completely unheard.
However, when our communication is always from the backdrop of love, we will find that our primary desire is to listen more, understand more and share more. A loving conversation encourages the other person to share their truth and listen intently so that they can capture the heart of the words. This type of communication easily fosters trust and vulnerability, which in turn creates a deep and intimate relationship.
On the flip side, pride says, "Listen to me. I am right. Your point of view isn't as valid. I must win, therefore I will find a way to make you wrong."
If the desire for your marriage is to have healthy, open, loving, and free lines of communication then you need to kick pride out and welcome love in.
Improve your intimacy levels with my 4 Pillars of Communication for Intimacy. Watch: