Have you ever noticed that people often talk more than they listen? This is a common frustration for marriages. Couples are notorious for being more concerned in getting his/her own point across, rather than really trying to understand the matters of the heart of their counterpart.
I can not count how many times I have heard clients complain “my husband/wife never hears what I am saying”.
When considering how often you may interrupt your partner, would you do something different? What if there were simple communication tools that could “flip the switch” in your marital interaction?
Communication is one of the top issues for marital distress. Often times, couples get busy with the task of the day and just minimize their need for mere friendship with one another. As time passes, the couple may find themselves talking only about surface issues, like “what’s for dinner”, or “what time do the kids need to be at practice.”
Couples get caught up in parenting or work roles and by the end of the day, they just want to relax. However, these “melt down” moments, are attached to the cost of lost emotional intimacy. Days turn into weeks and weeks turn into months and before you know it, relationship connection becomes dim and sometimes the light just goes out completely.
Typically, couples are aware when things are not in a healthy flow. However, neither partner may know exactly how to begin discussions so they avoid them to escape a possible explosion.
As a result, more distance occurs which in turn creates more dysfunction. Reconstructing healthier communication patterns can be as difficult for a couple as turning around a 747 aircraft.
Argument cycles are fairly complex as they are composed of offense cycles, emotional withdrawals, passivity, hidden resentments, aggression, coping mechanisms, childhood development and undefined triggers. These issues typically require outside counseling assistance to help the couple navigate through toxic interaction patterns. However, as a couple begins to recognize the relationship destruction, there are some simple tools that can be incorporated to at least begin healthier marital functioning.
Everyone needs “a person”. When a couple enters into marriage, they typically have chosen their partner as their “person”. The one you go to, the one you rely on and the one that meets your needs. However, the culprits of stress and fatigue will get in the way of the type of communication required for emotional intimacy.
Think about it… when couples first get to know one another, they typically start out with a friendship. The relationship begins with kind gestures and genuine interest regarding what is going on in the other’s daily life. When asked about the day, there is a real interest in hearing about it. Courtesy and support are givens in the initial stages of relationship development. However, these simple practices somehow get lost as the marriage is consumed with life, work and family stressors.
When desiring healthier marital interaction, kindness and courtesy skills are key. Unfortunately, couples omit doing the little things that make their partner feel noticed or nurtured. Although it is best for both partners to commit to kindness, often times it begins with only one partner. It is not always easy or fair to offer the olive branch first, but if something is not done, the damage will worsen as time goes on.
Scripture encourages the one who is more spiritual to make the first move. This point may have more punch when understanding spiritual warfare. When the enemy begins attacking the marriage, it’s only a matter of time before he targets the children and the finances. The enemy is not after you, but rather after the next generation, and the way he gets that generation is one family at a time. If you comprehend this, then you will be more willing to accept the scripture of “he who is more spiritual… “ without too much resistance related to fairness.
A little humility will be a small price to pay to save your family from the enemy’s strategy to gain the next generation. As couples desire to reignite the light of their connection, they need to go back to the basics.
The first order of business is to analyze self. The scripture tells us to deal with “the log in our own eye, rather than the speck in someone else’s”. So, when we look at our own ways of communicating, we may find that we are fairly self-centered when we communicate. This concept should not be confused with “shut up and be quiet” position. On the contrary, you can make your point and case, just wait your turn.
Secondly, rather than desiring to be heard and understood, increase the skill of listening to understand. Make a trade from thinking about what you want to say with entertaining what your partner is saying. Once you have listened to your partner’s concern, take the time to reframe what they have said by using the phrase “so what I heard you saying is….” This tool will not only validate your partner, but it will also assure you that your interpretation is correct. Additionally, be aware of defensive posturing. Make efforts to engage as an active listener, rather than defending yourself.
Marriage is God’s sanctifying tool and your partner is a mirror for you to see your own behaviors. Become more open to hear about yourself and work to find ways for self growth. Defensiveness is narrow-minded and stunts growth and productivity, whereas ownership is a sign of high self-esteem and increases self-development.
Alert yourself to negative internal dialogue. Many marital conversations turn negative as resentment and bitterness build. You may find that your negativity has turned into a complaining spirit. This will destroy not only your interior life but will also put your relationships at risk.
Additionally, analyze your prayer life regarding your partner. Are you complaining about your spouse even to God? There is a recommended book called “The Courts of Heaven” which reveals what is occurring in the supernatural realm when we pray. For instance, if God is the Judge, and satan is the “prosecuting” attorney against your partner, are your complaining prayers coming into alignment with satan’s agendas against your partner?
If you understand that your partner may not be acting in a way that is loving, then could you consider that the enemy is causing an attack upon him/her? And if the enemy is influencing them…are you coming into agreement with that attack? If altering your prayers regarding your partner had the power to cease satan’s attack, would you change the way you pray?
These concepts may not totally repair the damage of the past or heal all the marital wounds. However, for a cycle to change, all it takes is the intervention of one person.
When one partner changes his/her negative contributions to the interaction, the cycle WILL change. You have the power to be the one to intervene and “FLIP THE SWITCH”!
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