If couples are going to effectively communicate, they must learn how to communicate three basic things in their conversations. If couples fail to communicate these three things, their conversations will typically fail. Here is a brief description of all three of these areas:
How They Feel
Most couples rarely get past sharing how they feel because, once this occurs, the other person either becomes defensive, overbearing, argumentative, or they retreat from the conversation.
This is always a major road block to effective communication as once one party sees that they are not able to express their feelings in a safe setting, then they will often start clamming up. This is always a huge negative because once a person clams up, they start their journey toward the time that they will eventually blow up.
On many occasions in the scriptures, such as Numbers 11:10-15, we find God’s servants sharing how they feel with the Lord. It has always intrigued me to see that the Lord allowed His servants to share how they felt, and, many times, he did not deride them for doing so. In fact, in Numbers 11, we see that the Lord was rather tolerant of Moses even though he was sharing his feelings of negativity with the Lord.
What is Right
Most couples rarely make it to this level because they start arguing once someone communicates how they feel. However, if couples are going to effectively communicate, they will also have to look at what is right as well as how they feel.
Of course, my recommendation is that couples find out what is right by looking into the scriptures for help. Psalm 119:105 tells us that God’s Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. If we fail to look into His Word, then we are simply wandering aimlessly in the darkness.
A Proper Plan of Action
After couples share with one another how they feel and what is right, then they should develop a plan of action.
Why Couples Rarely Get Past Sharing their Feelings
Couples that experience a lack of communication in marriage typically experience communication problems because they fail to see their need to break up the conversation into three distinct parts.
For some reason, once couples realize there are three aspects to effective communication in marriage, they seem to move much smoother through the rough spots. That is, most couples almost try to package up their how the feel, what is right, and what they should do into just a few sentences, and I have found that this is always a recipe for disaster. I repeat. This is almost always a recipe for disaster.
If couples will agree that they are both allowed to share how they feel without having to get into what is right or their plan of action, it’s as if they are able to make a smooth transition into solving the problem.
For example, if a husband or wife says, “I feel exhausted in the marriage.”, then the other person typically responds in a defensive manner. This plays out when they say something like, “What? Am I not good enough for you?” or “That’s ridiculous, especially after all I’ve done for you.”. Usually, once this exchange occurs, arguments ensue and disaster is looming.
However, let’s change the paradigm. What if it is agreed that both parties are able to break their communication into three parts? Also, what if it is also understood that both can share how they feel without the other person jumping to conclusions or taking things defensively? In other words, what if the same conversation as above went like this:
Wife: “I’m exhausted in the marriage.“
Husband listens without trying to realign her feelings or cause her to feel differently.
Wife: “But, I know I can receive strength from the Lord to persevere as the Bible promises joy to those that ask for it.“
Husband: “I believe you are right. Let’s look at some scriptures.“
Wife: “I will scale back on my appointments and endeavors throughout the week and be sure to spend more quality time with the Lord.“
Husband: “I will also try to make sure you get more breaks.”
Once again, making the jump from stage one to stage two seems to be a very difficult jump for many couples. But, when couples both agree that they can share how they feel without the pressure of explaining why they feel that way or how they are going to solve the issue, it’s as if it keeps a conversation on a non-emotionally charged level. And, couples are able to move toward rationally trying to solve the problem at hand.
If you and your spouse are one of those couples experiencing a lack of communication in marriage, you will do well to better understand the principles taught in this article.