Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Breaking Down the Communication Barrier

Joan Rivers
Joan Rivers is a comedienne known for her phrase “Can we talk?”  Unfortunately there are a lot of husbands and wives asking the same question.  Studies indicate that the average husband and wife talk less than one hour a week on topics that are unrelated to managing the household.

There are any number of somewhat legitimate reasons why meaningful conversations are so rare.  Busyness is often blamed for the lack of one-on-one time.  For those with children it is difficult to find a time when you can have an adult conversation without distractions, not to mention you are too exhausted to do anything but “veg out.”  Lastly, as a stereotypical reason, men aren’t known for wanting to have deep, meaningful discussions during which they share their emotions.  Most men would rather spend time at the dentist.

This is particularly important because many women tend to be relational in nature and a meaningful conversation is one of the ways they best connect.  Attachment Theory might even suggest that when a wife is critical and nagging it is her way of trying to get her husband’s attention, that she is feeling emotionally starved and wants him to acknowledge her existence.  This obviously doesn’t work well since most husbands tend to withdraw when they are pursued by a wife who is expressing her apparent displeasure.

One way to strengthen your marriage is to commit to having at least 90 minutes of meaningful discussions per week, thus making you 50% better than the average.  Husbands you should take the lead.  Mutually agree upon a time or times that you will both deem as sacred.  Initially it might be easiest if you have pre-determined topics – preferably nothing controversial such as who you plan to vote for, etc.  You might share long term goals and dreams.  Talk about your favorite music or books you’ve read.  Talk about your hobbies or last week’s sermon.

Eventually guys you will have to talk about your feelings.  YIKES!!  Get over it.  If you had a bad day explain to your spouse what made it bad.  If you are excited about something tell your spouse why.  If you are frustrated with your job or your boss or a co-worker tell him/her why.  If you are reading God’s Word talk about a passage or verse that you found particularly meaningful, etc.

In addition, practice “active listening”, i.e. feeding back to your partner what you heard him or her say.  Remember body language and tone of voice add a nuance to the spoken word.  Be direct, don’t use a lot of “weasel words” that are so ambiguous that the other person doesn’t understand what you said, i.e. “It is possible that if everything comes together I might be able to go to the flea market with you, but on the other hand…”  Just say, “I prefer to not go to the flea market.”


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