Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Thou Shalt Continually Communicate

Week three in "The 10 Commandments of Marriage," wasn't too bad.  Actually, it wasn't bad at all.  This week's commandment is

Thou Shalt Continually Communicate

I think that in most pre-marital counseling sessions, marriage retreats, and anything else related to marriage, communication is one of the biggest, if not THE biggest topic talked about.  It's important.  

Ed mentions some reasons why people think a couple will stay together.  For example:
  • "They have so much in common."
  • "They are both from such good families."
  • "They are both such solid Christian people."
That doesn't matter.  In fact, Tyler and I have things in common, come from good families {at least I think so}, and are fairly solid in our faith.  Those factors are not the only things that marriage relies on.  I think those are important things in a marriage, but definitely not the only factors.

Communication is important.  He mentions that if you were to talk to people who have been divorced and heard all the reasons why they are divorced, when it comes down to the root of it all...communication wasn't there.

Ed states, "Nonverbal factors such as tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language can affect communication far more than one's choice of words."  I know that when I am tired, I tend to keep quiet.  Tyler tends to know what or how I'm feeling based on my nonverbals.  He knows how I'm feeling because of my body language or the look on my face.  So, I would agree that nonverbals are just as important as verbal communication.

Some factors that could hinder good communication are schedules, children, tv, and fear of conflict.  Tyler and I have been really busy.  We get up, go to work, come home, eat supper, go to bed.  There's some hang out time in there, too.  But when you really think about it, we've both come home from a long day at work and aren't in our best moods.  We do talk, but a lot of time we don't give our best to each other.

Ed says, "Healthy communication cannot occur and flourish in a marriage in which the partners fail to take time away from all the busyness to be with each other.  And if they can't build communication, they can't build their marriage."  We tend to be busy during the week with other things as well:  small group, ball games, grocery shopping, etc.  We really have to focus on communicating with each other, and we need to spend time with each other to build our marriage.

While we don't have kids, many others do.  Kids can be a hindrance to marriages because they take so much time to care for.  Kids are needy {even when they're 24}.  I know most parents want to give the time and attention to their kids that they need.  They want to be able to help them, care for them, and be there for them.  This takes away from the marriage and in return you have to work extra hard at communicating.

Television is another hindrance.  We watch a lot of tv...but not as much as we used to.  That's because we decided that cable tv wasn't a necessity.  I'm glad we made that decision.  But we still have the tv on quite a bit.  It becomes a problem when it interferes with relationships.  When it keeps us from talking to each other, that's when it's time to turn it off.

Ed mentions that if a husband and wife never have any conflicts, then they aren't communicating.  Conflict is normal and everyone has it in their life.  He says that you can't let the fear of conflict get in the way of communicating to each other.  At first, I had a fear of conflict with Tyler.  I wanted to state my opinion but at the same time not hurt his feelings.  So sometimes I wouldn't give my opinion and in the end, I was the one getting hurt.  It is just better to talk it out, even if there is a conflict.

Another thing he talks about is the levels of communication.  There are five levels.
  1. Cliche {Casual Conversation}
    For example, "How are you?"  This has little to no meaning.  It's usually used as a greeting because, well let's be honest, no one really cares how you're doing.
  2. Just the Facts
    For example, "It's raining today."  While this is important, you can't grow your marriage on just the facts.
  3. Opinions and Convictions
    For example, "I believe that..."  Sometimes disagreements pop up here.  You just have to be able to see both sides of the topic and keep in mind that it's your loved one's opinion.
  4. Feelings
    For example, "What are you feeling?"  This is the point where we make ourselves vulnerable.  It's easier to voice opinions than voice our feelings.  Ed says, "Yet to grow in our marriages, we have to grow in our communication.  And to grow in our communication, we must learn to communicate our feelings--freely, but with wisdom."
  5. Communicating Needs
    This is where we must give and take.  We give to each other's needs and take what we need.  "It is within the framework of this level of communication that a couple bonds and blends and become one."
We must learn to say what we mean.  It's easier to just say what you want flat out than it is to say something implied and hope the other person "gets it."  However, don't take it too far. Sometimes people can be brutally honest and it hurts other people.  There's a fine line between "shooting straight" and having no tact.  Sometimes I struggle with this.  I'm honest with people and tend to shoot straight.  However, not everyone is like me and can take the brutal honesty.  Some are more emotional and get their feelings hurt easier than I do.  Learning where that fine line is, is important.  It's also important to actively listen.  Listening to your spouse is just as important as being honest with them.

It's also important to figure out how each person receives messages.  If you're an auditory person, you like to receive messages verbally.  If you're a visual person, you like to see the words put into action, and if you're a feelings person, you receive messages through moods, demeanor, and posture.  This is a huge asset to marriage when you figure each other out and can communicate in the way they get it.

We aren't perfect...no one is.  Communication is always a hard topic.  Just keeping the "line" open between the two of you is important and it makes it easier to share with each other.

This week's questions:
  1. On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being nonexistent, and 10 being "So good, no improvement possible"), rate the communication in your marriage.
  2. How are you and your spouse at communicating your feelings and needs to each other?
  3. Describe some hindrances to communication in your marriage.
  4. How is your spouse wired?  Auditory?  Visual?  Feelings?  In light of your spouse's "wiring," how can you best communicate your love the him or her?

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