“Mastering the Art of Communication. Husbands, / Wives, / or Engage
“Among the complaints that marriage counselors hear most frequently are statements like, “She just doesn’t understand me,” or “He never listens to me.” The vast majority of marriages that are on the rocks today have run aground, either directly or indirectly, because of the couple’s inability to communicate with each other.
Over my many years in ministry I have counseled hundreds of couples with marital problems. In all but a handful of cases the troubled relationship stemmed essentially from a communication breakdown at its core. Whenever I counsel a married couple, several ground rules apply. First, when the husband talks, the wife listens. Second, when the wife talks, the husband listens. Third, after both of them have talked, I talk and they listen. While one is speaking, no one else interrupts. It is always interesting to see the look of astonishment that so often appears on the face of each spouse while the other one is speaking. In many cases, this is the first time in months or even years that they have actually listened to each other, and they are absolutely amazed at what they hear.
Communication is an art that must be learned, a skill that must “mastered. It does not happen automatically, even in marriage. True communication can occur only in an environment conducive to honest self-expression. Many couples spend a lot of time talking at each other but very little time actually talking to each other. Just because they are talking does not mean they are communicating.
The only time some couples talk is when “they argue. Sometimes critical statements and negative comments are virtually all a husband and wife hear from each other. Communication is best learned in an open, honest, and non-confrontational environment. Couples who do not learn how to communicate in such a low-key setting will never be able to do it in a confrontational situation.
Building the environment for effective communication must be deliberately planned. If I want to grow a nice garden, I cannot leave it to chance. I have to choose a spot for maximum sunlight, prepare the soil, plant the seeds, add fertilizer, pull weeds regularly, and make sure the plants get adequate water. In the same way, an environment conducive to communication must be built and nurtured deliberately and with great care. Couples who establish and maintain an atmosphere of openness, trust, and grace for talking about the good things also will find it much easier to talk about tough issues when they arise. “Communication is to love what blood is to life. Leviticus 17:11 says that life is in the blood. It is impossible to have any kind of healthy relationship without communication. This is true for anyone, whether regarding human relationships or a relationship with God. “Part of the problem with communication in marriage stems from the fact that many couples are confused about what it really means to communicate. Genuine communication requires both speaking and understanding. “Speaking” refers to any means by which thoughts, ideas, or feelings are expressed, whether by voice, gestures, body language, or facial expressions. Understanding involves not only hearing what “was said, but also interpreting what was said according to the speaker’s intention.
Communication between male and female or husband and wife is complicated by the fact that men and women think differently, perceive things differently, and respond differently. In general, men are logical thinkers and women are emotional feelers. Men speak what they are thinking while women speak what they are feeling. Men interpret what they hear from a logical frame of reference and women, from an emotional frame of reference. In other words, a man and a woman can hear the exact same message at the exact same time from the exact same speaker and perceive that message in two completely different ways. The same problem can easily arise when they are trying to communicate with each other.
Many people seem to equate conversation with communication. Just because two people talk to each other does not necessarily mean that they understand each other “What one says may not be what the other one hears, and what one hears may not be what the other one means. Two-way conversation does not guarantee communication. Once again, the key is understanding.
Understanding goes beyond simple acknowledgement of someone’s spoken word The verbal element is only a small part of the overall dynamic of human communication. Non-verbal elements such as gestures, facial expressions, and body language play an even greater part than the spoken word in determining how we interpret the messages we receive. Which would you believe, if I said, “I love you,” with a warm smile, or through gritted teeth with a scowl on my face and fist clinched? Although the words are the same, the message conveyed is totally different.
vision, purpose, destiny,