Because of lack of self control, many a wound has been inflicted, many a painful blow has been struck, many a marriage has been poisoned or sabotaged.
There are, however, two forms of self control which are equally important to good communication.
- One is the ability to control yourself when you are tempted to retreat into silence or go off and have a good pout.
The temptation to respond continuously to disagreement with silence must then be avoided if good communication is to be maintained. Instead, self-control must be exercised, issues must be faced, disagreements and conflicts must be calmly, respectfully, and fully discussed.
- One other important aspect of self-control that must be mentioned is the control of “crocodile tears” or “manipulative tears.”
A pastor friend of mine ever said “The one thing that really turns me off is when my wife turns on the tears. When she does that, I do not know what to do. I do not know what to say. I do not know how to handle it…The line of communication become jammed.”
When hurts or disapproval or conflict come, it is easy for some of us to give way to tears. This then becomes our natural, habitual response to harm situations. We must, however, pray for the help of the Holy Spirit to exercise control and change our response, because manipulative or crocodile tears will clog the circuits of good marital communication.
B. In order to have a good communication, our judgement, critical, demanding, officious, demeaning, bitter spirit must be replaced with a charitable, encouraging, forbearing, accepting spirit. But that does not mean that the husband and wife must condone error or evil.
C. Of all the principles involved in effective communication, none is more important than good listening.
Good listening is to communication what a magnet is to iron or a siphon to a gas tank. It has a drawing power. It gets the conversation flowing.
- Good listening involves letting the other person speak without interruption.
- Good listening involves giving the other person your undivided attention. Whenever possible you should stop whatever you are doing and concentrate on what the other person is saying.
- Good listening involves making sure you really understand what the other person is saying or thinking. Inherent in the whole communication-listening dynamic is the necessity to try to see things from the other person’s point of view. To see things from the other person’s perceptive may require repeating what he has said back to him until he is satisfied that you do understand. Or it may involve asking him kindly to say it in a different or amplified way until you are sure you understand.
Effective communication involves good listening as well as good speaking. You cannot have one without the other.
TWELVE PRACTICAL SUGGESTIONS FOR DEVELOPING AND MAINTAINING GOOD MARITAL COMMUNICATIONS
- When there are problems, each must be willing to admit that he/she is part of the problem (Gen8:8-19; Prov 20:6)
- Each person must be willing to change. (John 5:6; Matt 5:23-26)
- Avoid the use of emotionally charged words. “You don’t really love me.” “You always do…” “You never do anything right.” “I don’t care.”
- Be responsible for your own emotions, words, actions, and reactions. Don’t blame them on the other person. (Gal 6:5; James 1:13-15).
- Refrain from having reruns on old arguments.
- Deal with one problem at a time. Solve one problem and then move on to the next.
- Deal in the present and not in the past.
- Major on the positive instead of majoring on the negative (Phil 4:8).
- Learn to communicate in non-verbal ways. (Matt 8:1-2; 14-15; Ps 32:8).
- Express your thoughts and concerns to each other.
- Practice the golden rule – Matthew 7:12.
- Practice the principle laid down in Luke 6:35. “Do good—do that which will help others; and lend expecting and hoping for nothing in return.
May God helps us then to apply all of these principles so that we will become better communicators.