If you are like most couples, when you are having difficulties you say “We just aren’t communicating.
That is almost true. It is not that you’re not communicating. It is that the words you use toward each other, or don’t use, and how you use them that is the real culprit.
Susan and I recently led a pre-marital class at our church. One week we had been asked to discuss communication. And it ends up people really are interested and feel that it is a real problem. But what ended up as the focus of discussion in the class was not about the same old techniques, like using “I statements,” the “speaker/listener process” or “parroting back” what your partner says to you. It was about the importance of WORDS!
What is so important about our Words?
A few things we uncovered about the importance of words are:
Words have power- there is a proverb that says that “Your words are so powerful that they will kill or give life” (Prov 18:21 TPT). We know that God’s words are powerful. They create and always accomplish His purpose. And so too, our words can speak good things into other’s lives, or they can crush our spirits.
Words build us up- it is amazing how encouraging words from a friend or spouse just make us feel better. God tells us to build up and encourage each other. Our conversations need to be “full of grace.” But often we get so caught up in our hurried lifestyles we don’t take the time or thoughtfulness to think how we talk.
Words reveal our hearts and go deep- what you “store up in your heart” will be heard as your words overflow (Matthew 12 34).
Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.
Everyone knows this is not true. Words do matter. They can either hurt us or build us up.
We also discovered the most important part of communication in marriage will be in 2 areas:
Dealing with conflict- this is where most couples get in trouble. Our lives will always have conflict, but how we deal with our differences can make us better partners and teammates, or it can divide us. Fighting is when we let conflict:
DIVIDE us as couples;
Let conversation go NEGATIVE; and
ESCALATE– in tone, volume and hurtful words
Sharing your heart- this means you connect with your partner’s ‘inner world.’ You understand the meaning and emotions of your partner’s words and communication. You hear and understand the things that are important to them. Communication must be SAFE! Emotionally safe!
HOW you talk will always be more important than what you talk about.
We don’t always know how to share our hearts, but this is really the lifeblood of marriage communication. And it is not always about being “emotional.” It means when we are talking, we listen for what is deeper or what is “underneath” just the words themselves. This is the HOW we talk together. Remember, underneath every complaint, problem, issue or irritation is a deeper longing, need or desire that is going on inside.
I think we can say there are 3 main components to sharing more deeply:
it is about remembering you love this person you are communicating with, and that you care for them, about how they feel and what is important to them.
We don’t always get what we want; but we should always walk away FEELING LOVED!
And last, a few reminders on the HOW we talk.
Know what kind of communication you need to be having. Do you need to find solutions and accomplish something together? That is “Work Talk.” But if you need to connect, to hear deeper and bond with your spouse; if they NEED something, you need to have “Heart Talk.” If you don’t know which talk you need, just ask, its OK to ask. Even after 35+ years of marriage, we still have to sometimes ask, “What kind of talk do you need?”.
Also respond positively when your partner is attempting to communicate with you. How couples “Turn Toward” one another (as opposed to a Turn Away-a no response or being preoccupied with other things) builds trust in the relationship and can actually predict the health of a couple’s relationship.
The TASK will never be as important as the PERSON.