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Properly communicating in marriage is the key. How respectful are you when you communicate? How clear? How unselfish? How honest? The lack of these attributes when communicating in your marriage leads to barriers aka problems.
Marriage is tough. Even the best start to marriage doesn’t guarantee a perfect ending. We know there’s no such thing as a perfect marriage, right?
No, there’s no perfect marriage. No article, marriage workshop, seminar, DVD, podcast, or a scene from the movie Notebook will prepare your marriage for perfection.
There will be problems, and, when there is problems in your marriage usually what immediately suffers is the communication between you and your spouse. For the last 20 years the following has been true. Communication in marriage is the #1 problem in marriage.
It rarely matters what the topic is.
Is the problem related to finances in your marriage?
Then you may start talking disrespectfully to your spouse because of the insecurity that your spouse’s poor financial decisions create. In that case, was the problem the finances exactly? Or was it how disrespectful the communication was about the topic?
Here’s a hint. Marriage communication was never meant to be disrespectful.
Is the problem with romance in your marriage?
Then you may become distant in your communication with your spouse. Or become unresponsive to the verbal flirts they eventually want to lead to romantic actions. An interaction that you may feel doesn’t emotionally or spiritually fulfill you.
Communicating in marriage is key. You’ve probably heard that before. But, what does it mean?
My understanding is this….
“Communication for marriage is the ‘bridge’ between two spouses that allows important information to be ‘transported’. “
That information can provide understanding. That understanding can then can lead to compromise, unity, respect, unselfishness, growth, friendship, romance, etc.
“Barriers” (bet you thought I would never get to the title of this blog) in your communication would be like putting up roadblocks on that bridge. When there are roadblocks on the ‘communication bridge’ then messages are not received. Messages not received typically leads to misunderstanding, which eventually leads to arguments.
What are some potential roadblocks? Pride. Poor listening skills. Selfishness. Disrespect. Lies. Inconsideration.
Hopefully, you see just how important communication is from that perspective.
Knowing that there will eventually be problems shouldn’t discourage you though, it should motivate you to prepare for those problems. One of the best ways to prepare for those problems is knowledge. Knowledge aka Christ-centered information you receive from marriage workshops, marital books, marriage seminars, marriage counselors, or blogs like this.
What is the smartest way out of a live minefield? A minefield where ONE wrong step can cause a mine to blow you up, instantly killing you.
The wisest way out of that situation is by following someone holding a map.
Let this article, provide a roadmap that helps you get around those barriers in your communication.
All that I ask, is that you put your thoughts and feelings aside, read, pray about it, then apply something you learned for a week with a good Spirit, and share the results with me.
Oh, and you name your first son after me. Felice. F E L I C E.
We Expect the Other Person to Understand What we are Saying
Is it because they should know you by now? What you know about your spouse one day, can be different the next day.
Is it because you have told them the same thing several times? Maybe it isn’t their habit.
Because if they “loved you” they would understand? Really? Your spouse not understanding you means they don’t love you?
Should they know what you want? Ya know, in almost 10 years of marriage, I still haven’t learned to read my wife’s mind consistently. Maybe it takes 20 years.
Reread those statements above. If you do, or if you recall it by memory, you’ll notice that all those statements came with a set of expectations towards your spouse.
Is it bad to have expectations? No. It’s bad to have selfish expectations. It’s bad to have unrealistic expectations.
All an expectation is, by definition, is a strong belief that something will happen. Two people get married, normally, because there is a strong belief that, that person loves them and wants to put a ring on it.
You are in a monogamous relationship, and you expect that your significant other will be faithful.
Even outside of a marriage an expectation still follows the definition. Take the context of an employee and an employer for example. The employee works 40 hours with the expectation that they will get paid the 40 hours that they worked. An employer pays the employee at the agreed-upon rate at the expectation that the employee will fulfill the responsibility of their position.
An expectation isn’t bad. We often expect the other person to understand what we are saying because we usually selfishly want our spouse to think, feel, or behave as WE feel they should. WE “feeling” like they should, leads to a selfish expectation. In marriage Christian spouses become ONE FLESH.
In short, that means BOTH of your expectations (feelings, thoughts, desires, wants, needs) are merged. You TWO are the priority. Any time an expectation (thought, feeling, desire) that YOU have takes priority of your spouses’ expectations, then you are going AGAINST God’s design for marriage. You’re going against the merging of the two “selfs” in a relationship.
We often expect our spouses to understand what we are saying because we expect them to come from the same mental or emotional space we are coming from.
If you forget to include how your spouse could feel or would possibly think in an important situation involving you two, then there will be communication problems. There will be arguments.
How do you prevent the selfish expectations?
Listen to your spouse. By listening, I don’t mean listening to have a comeback or a rebuttal. I mean listening to understand. Listening to hear how THEY feel, or what THEY think about the situation.
Many times, you will disagree with how your spouse feels, or how your spouse thinks. That’s ok. Despite the differences though, you two need to come to a MUTUAL compromise that includes both of your feelings and ideas being met.
They may not be perfectly met, but the idea isn’t to be perfectly met. The idea is to seek to meet your spouse’s needs in the first place.
Easier said than done right? I never said the application of that principle would be easy, but it is a solution to many arguments. And it is a solution to preventing thinking that your spouse should think like you.
What Makes a Happy Marriage Life?
For the context of this article, a happy marriage life isn’t a marriage life that is filled with a lack of communication in your marriage.
Any barriers in your communication, leads to poor communication, or lack of communication. That’s a no-no.
Barriers to trust. Barriers to love, support, or any other crucial needs that marriage needs. A happy marriage by any definition essentially means being able to avoid obstacles in your marriage life that hinder spouses from getting what they need.
A happy marriage then would be a marriage life where the “roads” are clear when it comes to you and your spouses giving and receiving what they essentially need in marriage. Those roads will often have obstacles, avoiding those obstacles is one way of dealing with the problems aka obstacles that will occur. Another way, and often a better way is learning how to deal with those obstacles’ aka problems. So that those problems never happen again.
Ok, Felice, you have said a lot. What are some key things to remember?
Key Things to Remember for Communication in your Marriage.
The solution to the barriers starts first with knowing what the barriers are, THEN work on learning how to prevent them from becoming barriers.
Differences are ok. It serves as a starting point, that can lead to compromise.
Knowing why someone has issues communicating about something is just as important as the solution.
NOT talking about the problem, is often a bigger problem than the problem.
Acceptance and agreeing are two different things.
Learn to deal with the reasons causing the barrier, instead of focusing on the barrier.
Understand the difference between a barrier and a disagreement.
Stop expecting your spouse to think, do, or be who you would be in the situation.
Sometimes it is you that’s causing the barrier, that forces your spouse to put up a barrier.
Seek to understand why the barrier is up in the first place before you attack them for putting up a barrier.
Compromise isn’t easy, but that should be the goal in the interactions.
When there are multiple barriers in one situation, work at one at a time.
Removing barriers take time.
Expectations are good if those expectations consider your spouse.
Expectations are bad if you expect your spouse to adhere to how you go about things.
Talk to each other about those expectations in every aspect of your marriage: Sex, money, respect, support.
No one can meet every expectation: Determine the most important ones.
Compromise is a ‘meeting in the middle’ between you and your spouse.
Sometimes your expectations are wrong.
Sometimes listening to your spouse, and being considerate of how they feel, removes many barriers.
A barrier shouldn’t instantly make you mad, learn to see it as an opportunity to get closer to your spouse.
Talk about the expectations you have that are bad expectations.
Having expectations is a deep concept that involves expectations about feelings, reactions, actions, and beliefs.
Last, and definitely not least, take your barriers to God in prayer.
Barriers will happen. In a perfect world, with perfect people, there would be no barriers. There would be no hindrance to the communication of any other vital aspect of a marriage. However, we don’t live in a perfect world, and sometimes, those imperfections provide an opportunity to provide positive results. Barriers happening shouldn’t automatically be taken in a negative light. Barriers can also help show you and your spouse another way of doing something. Barriers can help you find a more efficient way of handling conflict. Barriers can also help reveal where the weak points are in your marriage, and a weak point discovered, is a weak point that has the opportunity to be worked on becoming stronger.
Instead of responding to a barrier with negativity, why not start responding with curiosity?
You can get mad at your spouse for not opening up about their past. Or you can get curious as to why. Ask them if it is something you have done to prevent them from opening up.
As for them if there is anything you can do to make them telling you easier.
Do you see how quickly the approach of curiosity drastically creates a better atmosphere of communication as opposed to being angry at the barrier?
Instead of being angry at the barrier why not ask yourself what barriers you have? It’s funny that we humans see clearly what our spouse is doing OR not doing for us. Yet, we are often blind to our doings, and not doing.
Questions to ask yourself.
What barriers do I have up in my marriage? What do I feel open talking about the most? What topics would I rather not talk about?
Extend those questions beyond mere words. How about actions?
What actions either directly or directly present a barrier to my spouse? How can I work on habits that remove that barrier? Why was that barrier up in the first place?
Instead of being frustrated about the barrier, develop patience. Love is PATIENT. Love is KIND. Sound familiar?
1 Corinthians 13:4 New American Standard Bible
4 Love is patient, love is kind…”
The definition of patience in that verse means ‘long-suffering’. Wait. What?! Yes. Long-suffering. Doesn’t sound Hollywood movie romantic ready?
Of course, it doesn’t. But, knowing that people are imperfect, do you think that in the course of loving them you wouldn’t suffer?
Let’s look at the parent and child relationship. As a parent, you are constantly and consistently seeking to protect, provide, and guide your child. As a child, they will rebel. They will disappoint you. They will do anything contrary to your guidance out of love for them. That is a form of suffering. Yet, as a parent, you stay committed to being a parent and loving them anyway.
Marriage is the relationship that has more of a priority than a parent and child, so naturally, you would think there would be more suffering. Jesus suffered for the church, and Christians even to this day is persecuted because of Christ.
By patience, I don’t mean to suffer all forms of suffering for your spouse thinking that, “yes this is love.” No. By suffering I mean the patience required between spouses, while those stubborn barriers are torn down.