Thursday, 2 December 2010

Helping Quiet Spouses to Communicate

David Powlison is on the faculty of The Christian Counseling and Education Foundation, a counselor and author. He fielded a sincere question from a wife who acknowledged that she and her husband tend to be very quiet. She wanted to know what they might do to get the conversation flowing. Here is what David had to say:

It would appear that the couple that posed the question being addressed by today’s video has similar wiring. Perhaps they are both introverted and introspective people for whom conversation takes a certain amount of energy. This is not a barometer of the love they may or may not have for one another. David Powlison’s suggestions for such a couple are practical, i.e. develop a list of open ended questions that you can ask one another. This may seem contrived at first but if the experience proves to be enjoyable it may become a more natural part of the couple’s routine.

More often than not, the husband or the wife desires to engage in conversation regularly while his/her counterpart does not. As a generalization it tends to be the man who prefers one word answers to a question that should fill at least a paragraph. Personality and gender differences can contribute to a less than satisfying level and quality of communication between couples. While it is good to acknowledge the differences in wiring that exist those differences are not to be used as an excuse for poor communication.

The Book of Ephesians 5:33 calls husbands to love their wives as they love themselves. If the way the wife feels connected to her husband, the way she feels cared for and loved is to engage in a conversation then that is what the husband needs to learn to do. There is a better than average chance that this was not a problem during the dating years. Of course the Scripture passage commands the wife to respect her husband. It might mean that he needs a few minutes of down time when he first comes home.

Again as a generalization, women tend to be more relational and conversational. Men tend to be more task focused and less conversational. Some people tend to be more introverted and some more extroverted. In fact these differences may have been what attracted you to one another. When the man asks, “Who’s going to pick Johnny up from practice?” to him that is a conversation. Couples who love one another learn to “negotiate” a level of conversation that is satisfying to each. It may start out rather stilted, i.e. agree to talk for 10 minutes immediately following dinner. Hopefully it will gravitate to something less contrived.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing, Ron. It is a great reminder of how important conversation is, especially in a marriage.


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