Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Avoiding Communication Extremes in Your Marriage

There aren't many couples struggling with their marriage who don't have communication problems. I have 25-30 years of anecdotal counseling evidence to prove it. Unfortunately most couples haven't been taught to communicate well or have simply lost what they already knew.

Others have allowed their lives to get so filled with everyday life stuff that they have no time to look at each other face to face and talk about what really matters. In the next post or two I want to talk about how to enhance your ability to communicate more effectively and meaningfully in your marriage.

Communication is key to connecting our souls intimately.

But today let me talk about two extremes to avoid. The first one is when one or both spouses resort to a shouting match to get their point across. I've often said, don't yell at your spouse or children unless they are in extreme danger. Raising our voices accomplishes little to enhance what we say. In fact there are many dangers that accompany our angry tirades.

First of all, we tend to say words that we really don't mean and that injure the other person. We're likely to make comments that attack the other's character, "you're so stupid," or "you never listen to anyone, do you?" The book of Proverbs says in 18:21, Death and life are in the power of the tongue. We can hurt one another, deeply, and some of our words will be hard to take back.

Second, we don't invite the other person into the conversation when we're yelling at our spouse. We make winning the argument more important than resolving the conflict.

However, there's another extreme to avoid - silence. This is one that I used a lot early on in our marriage. I didn't want to hurt my wife more so I figured I would just keep things to myself and not worry about them. I was wrong. Instead I sent the message that I didn't trust her to handle my comments and concerns.

Silence has it's place but not when it's merely to avoid conflict. Silence may look better than yelling but it's not any more effective. The better way is to learn how to communicate effectively and in a timely way. Proverbs again tells us several time how impacting our words can be when spoken at an appropriate time. We're also reminded that we must listen before we speak (18:13)

Some suggest, however, that they are just "that way" and really can't help it. "Jon just blows his gasket every now and then and later he cools down. I just deal with it." Or "Allison is the quiet type. I've learned how to eventually get things out of her but it takes some time."

Wouldn't you rather avoid all that and just get to the issues without risking the hurt of rejection by words that hurt and silent rejection? There are better ways and I'll talk about them in the next couple of posts.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

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