When I taught marriage enrichment classes I always had a sheet called “red flags”. These were things in your marriage that needed to be worked on or changed if a red flag was visible in your marriage. Take time today to evaluate your communication with each other. I will never forget the first time I handed out communication techniques thinking all marriages were on the same communication level in all those who had been married several years however I found out that not every marriage was on the same level. What I thought were easy questions for each couple to ask one another on their date night, was in fact hard to answer for some because of the present level they were on. Some walked away actually arguing over the question. In fact there are about five different levels of communication in which I didn’t realize really mattered until I had some couple come back and gave me feedback.
Communication is not just about talking but also body language, in fact I had to break the “dreaded eye roll” once I found out it was a communication red flag. Today I want to bring out how communication with the thought in mind of how we actually talk to one another when we may seem frustrated. Once frustration sets in the conversation may go down hill and escalate in to a full-blown out argument. We must remember that frustration is unmet expectation. Listed below are some ugly and unhealthy patters of communication.
“That’s fine with me.” Or, “Whatever you want is fine.” It’s really not “fine”, but this person does not like arguments, so, on the surface they simply agree, but inside they resent the attitude of the other person. We will never have an authentic relationship until we learn to share our honest thoughts and feelings. You might begin by asking, “Would you really like to know my thoughts?” If they say, “yes”, then share them.
There are many unhealthy patterns of communication, but none as deadly as “The Blamer.” “It’s your fault.” “If it weren’t for you everything would be fine.” “You never do anything right.” “I don’t know how you could be so stupid.” No matter what it is, the blamer will blame their spouse and in the process destroys intimacy and make communication impossible.
An ancient Hebrew proverb says, “A fool does not delight in understanding, but only wants to show off his opinions.” If you are a blamer, I urge you to apologize to the person you so often blame. Your relationship will never improve until you admit your destructive words and seek to understand the other person’s perspective.
If you are married and you take pride in being reasonable, and you see your spouse as being unreasonable, you are in the process of destroying your marriage. The person I’m talking about is calm, cool and collected. He believes that if you will listen to his arguments, you will be forced to agree. Any sane person could not disagree.
“Let’s be reasonable,” they say, as they envision themselves as being a person of logic.”Let me explain this to you one more time.” The implication is that if you will just listen, you will understand and thus agree. This person makes no room for emotions. All that matters is logic. But I remind you that God made us emotional creatures and if you don’t allow for emotions, you will never create an intimate marriage. Learn to listen. Treat your spouse as a person of worth. Ask for their opinions and be empathetic with their feelings.
The Statue and/or Subject Changer
This is the person who doesn’t talk. “Ignore her and she will go away” is his philosophy. Such a person will never enjoy authentic relationships. In healthy relationships, people must talk about the things that irritate them. They must seek to negotiate solutions which will respect their differences. Put your head in the sand, and your problems will get worse.
The key is not to ignore your spouse or change the subject when your spouse brings up a topic that you think will start an argument. Simply ask, “Do you want us to share our ideas and look for a solution? If so, I’m willing to talk. If we are simply going to argue, I don’t have the energy to do that. If we can respect each other’s thoughts I think we can find an answer.” Speak the truth in love and you can solve your problems.
If you see yourself in any of the unhealthy communication patterns above and desire to change, talk with your spouse and develop healthy ways to identify these patterns when they arise. Then, set in place a plan to work towards healthy communication. And healthy communication leads to healthy relationships.
Prayer: Lord I pray that we will have healthy relationships, healthy marriages and healthy communication in all areas of our lives. In Jesus name. Amen.