“Ultimately the bond of all companionship, whether in marriage or in friendship, is conversation.” – Oscar Wilde
The trait that is most closely linked to the success or failure of marriage and most relationships is the ability to communicate. There are a variety of bad communication tactics. They include: talking too much about yourself; being disagreeable or argumentative; being distracted by your phone, not staying on the other person’s topic; stating negative things about the other person; attacking them; and not reciprocating the other person’s effort. There are others. Communication is a skill that must be learned and practiced in order to have a successful marriage.
Communication is the mortar that holds a relationship together – if it breaks down, the relationship will crumble. The power of communication is especially important in the context of marriage. When spouses no longer communicate, a marriage nurtures no one. By our words, we can develop a beautiful and prosperous marriage that glorifies God. And, by our words, we can destroy the very gift and mission God has given us in marriage.
When communicating in a relationship, tone is very important. In fact, our tone might actually be more important than what we say. Ask anybody who listens to you. Growing up, we all were probably told, “Don’t use that tone of voice with me!” Based on how we say something — our inflection or emphasis on certain words — and our body language and facial expressions, our tone conveys our attitude, whether we send a message of humor, anger, sarcasm, jealousy or sincerity. Our tone tells the truth even when our words don’t. We can even say “I love you” in a way that provokes bitterness. The tone of voice you use indicates whether you care or not.
Respect is also very important. True communication involves respect for the other person. We often immediately reject another’s perceptions, especially when our views differ. We find ourselves ready to dispute the things our spouse has to say, to challenge them, or to hear them as threats. The first step to improved dialogues is to respect your partner. Consider and value your spouse’s perspectives or suggestions. Let your partner know that your respect and value for him or her supersedes the specific issue you are discussing. God makes it very clear that we should never dishonor our spouse or other individual through our words. So be cautious when choosing your words. You might be saying the right thing, however saying it in the right way and using correct words is more important.
Imagine how Jesus would react and communicate if He were in your shoes. What would be His tone and His level of respect? If you think in those terms, you will be more successful in your communication and in your marriage.
- How often do you sit down as a couple simply to talk to one another? Do you set time aside specifically for this purpose? Why or why not?
- What do you need and expect from each other in terms of openness and depth of communication? How do your needs and expectations differ? Do you feel that you understand each other? If not, what can you do to improve the situation?
- How does your current communication differ from before you got married?
- What can we do this week to improve communication in our marriage/relationships?