The reading for the next two sections focused on this Principle: Give Yourself Away. Not something that many of us willingly want to do. This is the midpoint of the class where things change. The first 8 lessons were all about explaining the gospel and how it relates to marriages, the next 8 lessons are all about the practical response to the Gospel.
Lesson 9 was about Communication with this main:
“The goal of communication is mutual understanding. You have negative communication patterns that you need to identify and change.”
The goal is “Mutual Understanding.” To understand someone else you need to actually listen to them right? If your spouse was asked, if you were a good listener, what do you think they would they say? Do you think you are a Good Listener?
Stephen Covey made a profound statement about this, he said:
“Most People do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”
If we want to improve our marriage, good communication is key! To achieve that, we need to be a good listener to understanding where the other person is coming from. From the reading, they said,
“The goal of communication is not to get your point across, show that you are right or to win an argument. The goal of communication is mutual understanding.”
It is the difference between arguing versus understanding. When we are communicating with our spouse, there are many things that can cause conflict and misunderstandings.
One of the most commonly cited studies on communication is from the 1970s. Professor Albert Mehrabian studied the relative importance of verbal and nonverbal messages in personal communication. The study concluded that the:
The non-verbal elements are particularly important for communicating feelings and attitude, especially when they do not align. He concluded that, if words and body language disagree, the body language will be believed over whatever is spoken.
Another area that can cause misunderstandings are the “non-present” forms of communication.
- In this world of emails and texting, not being in-person to read the body language, we can easily “misread” the intentions of the other person.
- This used to be true with just phone calls upon this new mode of communication takes it to a whole other level, where things can be misinterpreted and misunderstood.
- You can read into things that really aren’t there.
James 1:19b is a famous quote about communication:
This by far is the best advice anyone could heed. Verse 20 gives us the justification on the why.
“for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
If we want to be more like Jesus, then we need to follow the advice, and understand that when our communication pattern is not in alignment, we are dishonoring God as verse 20 shows us.
The lesson focused on four common ways that couples communicate poorly.
Negative Communication Patterns.
1. WITHDRAW AND AVOID.
“Withdrawal is an unwillingness to get into or stick with important discussions.”
It could just be that you leave the room in the middle of a conversation or shutting down emotionally.
“Avoidance is choosing to not address tough issues or have conversations that could be difficult.”
Or just sweeping it under the rug.
A better way: Need to stick with conversations when they happen. If your spouse is the one that withdraws, the lesson had a very practical question to ask…
“What is it about me that makes it hard for you to communicate with me?
“Escalation occurs when you respond negatively toward your spouse in the conversation continues to get more and more hostile.”
One thing that was interesting to me was that, escalation isn’t just yelling at each other but it’s also the subtle things like sarcasm, name-calling, threats and other forms of attack as well.
A better way: “The best thing that you can do is take a timeout before things get out of hand and then decide what time you’re reconvene.”
“The goal of the timeout is to keep yourself from damaging the relationship and take time to gather yourself so you can come back in a better frame of mind, ready to talk about the issue.”
3. NEGATIVELY INTERPRET.
“Negative interpretation happens when you assign a motive to your spouse that is more negative than is really the case.”
“Often times this is caused when there is some insecurity or if veiled comments were common in the family growing up.”
A better way: “You combat negative interpretation by believing the best about your spouse.”
I heard somewhere that “90% of all friction is caused by the wrong tone of voice.”
“Invalidation occurs when you directly or indirectly dismiss, minimize or put down the thoughts, feelings or character of your spouse.”
A better way: “Remember that the goal of communication is to understand rather than being right.”
Proverbs 14:29 (NLT) says,
“People with understanding control their anger; a hot temper shows great foolishness.”
In Charles Stanley’s Life Principles Bible, he had this Life Lesson on this verse,
“It may feel good for a short while to vent out fury at someone but “the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” (James 1:20) Responding to bitterness with more bitterness leads only to a combative and even more explosive situation.”
What do you think about that quote? Do you believe that responding to bitterness with more bitterness will lead to a more explosive situation? What has been your experience?
The book made this great point….
“The way you communicate with your spouse will have a big impact on the quality of your marriage.”
Romans 12:18 (ESV)
“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”
Boy that is so hard to do sometimes but heeding this will pay dividends!! The takeaway from Romans 12:18 is that
“Communication is an opportunity to honor God and do everything you can to “live peaceably” with your spouse.”
Again, “The goal ultimately is mutual understanding.”
Guard your tongue and your tone.
“Faith is like a muscle, the more you use it, the stronger it becomes. The same is true for developing Positive Communication Patterns; the more you practice it, the stronger your marriage will be.”
If you would like to read more on guarding your tongue, check out this previous post called ★ Thought for the Day – Our Tongues Should Point People to Jesus ★.
If you would like to read the next installment in the re|engage class, click here . . . ★ Re|Engage – Conflict ★
If you want to read previous re|engage lessons click here…