Communication: How Does It Make Me Feel?
Communication: a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior. That’s Merriam-Webster’s definition. So how do you define communication? Better yet:
Communication in Marriage
How is communication in your marriage?
Most counselors and coaches (including us) agree that communication is foundational to a solid marriage relationship. It’s crucial for each spouse to be able to safely express feelings about a situation or experience – whether positive or negative. Take a moment and think about the last ‘opportunity for growth’ (aka disagreement or argument!) you experienced as a couple. Did your wife believe you would acknowledge her feelings and listen to her? Did your husband have the space to honestly air his thoughts and concerns – without judgment?
How do we go about communicating well?
When we express ‘how that makes or made me feel’, we are learning to express our own feelings in a safe way – and in a way that will also protect our spouse from feeling attacked and rushing to the defense mode. By using this communication tool early in the conversation, doors will remain open, rather than walls being built up with ‘you’ statements.
Scenario One looks a little like this: Husband approaches Wife with the statement, “You always …. (add your own storyline here).” Immediately, Wife feels she’s left with no choice but to defend herself. As a result, communication is shut down from the beginning, leaving no chance for healthy discussion and resolution.
Scenario Two plays out this way: Husband approaches wife Wife with the statement, “That situation made me feel this way.” Wife can now honestly communicate her feelings as well since Husband has opened the door for genuine discussion.
How we relate and communicate is essential to building trust. Most women want to know they are being heard and their feelings to be validated. Typically, men want to know they are valued and heard (as well).
This rings true on a general relational level as well. Women need love (and to feel loved), and men need respect (and to feel respected). In fact, this comes straight from the Bible. Ephesians 5:33 tells us, “However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”
It doesn’t get much more clear than that!
So, the next time an ‘opportunity’ arises, let’s take a moment and remember to safely express ourselves and allow our spouse that same chance. Keep those lines of communication freely moving, and build that strong foundation.
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone?
If you find that you’re struggling with effective communication in your relationship, we would love to help.