Communication is helped when conflicts and challenges in the marriage are resolved quickly. The longer things remain unresolved the more difficult it is to recall the issue accurately and objectively. The reason being that the longer a conflict simmers the more embellished it becomes in your mind.
For instance, have you ever heard someone say, “We had a big argument, but I can’t remember what it was all about.”? That’s because we often forget the details of the conflict, but we rarely forget the emotional pain and the hurt it produced. While the details may be hazy, our minds often intensify the feelings.
So, if it is at all possible, try to resolve hurts and misunderstandings before you go to bed. That is God’s recommendation, not mine.
Don't let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a mighty foothold to the Devil. (Ephesians 4:26-27.)
When you endeavour to resolve issues before you go to bed:
- You are obeying God’s recommendation.
- You are destroying hazardous roots of bitterness.
- You are increasing your chances of sleeping soundly.
- You are denying Satan of a foothold in your marriage.
- You are quenching the fuel for nightmares and bad dreams.
- You are building yourself a happier, longer lasting marriage.
No matter how thin you slice it, there will always be two sides to every conflict – A Jewish Philosopher
5. Learn to Share Your Feelings Without Attacking your Spouse.
This was one lesson I found really hard to master. Many times when I wanted to share my feelings with my wife, I used a ‘You did this…’ or ‘You shouldn’t have done that…’ phrase.
The problem with this approach is that no matter how nice you try to say it, it still sounds like an attack on your partner. It identifies your spouse as the culprit or as the one who is intentionally causing you pain.
So a better way to communicate your feelings is to use ‘I am feeling…’ or ‘It made me feel...’ statements. For example, say: “I felt bad when you made those comments about me at the party”, not “I hate you for always embarrassing me in public?”
Say things like: “Whenever you come home early, I feel loved and secure”, not “You behave like you love your office-mates more than you love me”.
The first kinds of statements help your partner identify your feelings and concerns without igniting their defences. The second kind, brings the barriers out and up.
If truth be told, none of us like to be accused of intentionally hurting our loved ones. But if we are faced with an unhappy spouse, we usually want to do whatever we can to turn the situation around.
So, express more of how you are feeling and less of what your spouse has or has not done. If you do, you would be helping your spouse to respond more positively to your feelings; and communication in your home will be less stressful.
Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one. (Colossians 4:6.)
...Be sober-minded in all things, showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you. (Titus 2:7-8.)
...To be continued next week.
Extracts from KEYS TO EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION IN MARRIAGE...
Written by Pastor Tony Peters.