Developing good communication skills in marriage is a necessity for a happy home. Couples that regularly share thoughts, ideas, feelings and expressions are more likely to stay married than those who fail to communicate. A lack of communication may result when spouses fail to listen, or misinterpret what is spoken, which in turns, elicits an improper or negative response. A good conversation, especially in marriage, requires the proper conveyance of ideas, thoughts, emotions or instructions using the right speech patterns and voice inflections. Conversation also requires a sender, or speaker, and a receiver, or listener. If the sender cannot convey an idea in a method readily understood by the receiver, or if the receiver fails to give adequate attention to the speaker, the lines of communication are broken. In marriage, broken lines of communication can not only lead to misunderstandings and hurt feelings, but also constant disharmony and eventually divorce.
The solution is for husbands and wives to develop good communication skills in marriage that not only make for good conversations, but also serve to solidify a bond that cannot be easily broken through misinterpretation. The key is for spouses to say what is meant and mean what is said; and above all, to become good listeners. The Bible admonishes in James, Chapter 1 to be swift to listen: "Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath. For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God" (James 1:19-20). Being swift, or quick, to listen to the husband or wife enables couples to really comprehend what is being said without misinterpretation. Being slow to speak requires patience, temperance and self control. When people lash out too quickly without listening to what was spoken, conflict and arguments ensue. By being mindful of biblical principles and building communication skills in marriage, couples can avoid senseless arguments, or the wrath which comes when one person feels slighted or wrongly judged by another.
Couples having problems understanding one another might seek the aid of a relationship expert, marriage counselor, or seasoned clergymen. As an holy institution ordained by God, marriage is under constant attack; and one of satan's greatest weapons is confusion. When husbands and wives fail to communicate, what should be holy matrimony and a happy family can quickly turn into hellish mayhem. Developing proper communication skills in marriage and the grace to respond in kindness and love is crucial in making home a haven for husbands and wives.
How do married couples develop good listening skills? First of all, by valuing what one another has to say. Prior to marriage, lovers hang onto one anothers every word. Even the slightest expression is valued, treasured and held dear. The corniest joke and the silliest response becomes a monument to the love shared. But somehow, after newlyweds say I do, they spend the rest of their married lives saying, "I don't." But exercising the same communication skills in marriage that were so deemed so necessary in courtship can make all the difference in how long the union will last. Women and men both need to be heard and understood. Each spouse needs to feel that what comes out of their mouths is important; and it is.
Let's look at this scenario. Wilma is wondering what to cook for dinner and asks her husband, John, "Would you like roast beef tonight or salmon?" John says, "I don't care." Wilma decides to prepare a fresh salmon. Later when John sits down to eat, he says, "I thought we were having roast beef; I don't like salmon." Wilma storms out of the dining room and refuses to come out of the bedroom all evening. Meanwhile, John turns the television on and sits on the sofa fuming because Wilma, in his opinion, is being too sensitive. The failure to apply good communication skills in marriage has resulted in a cold war between Wilma and John that might take several days to resolve. Neither of them listened adequately and misinterpreted the conversation. John heard what he wanted to hear and Wilma should have pressed John for the correct interpretation or response to the original question. "I don't care," is not an answer. John was not completely honest with his wife. He did care about what was served, but Wilma didn't know it. Clarifying John's statement would have resulted in Wilma preparing roast beef for dinner, which John would have happily eaten.
That same scenario is played out in homes every day in America and abroad. When couples fail to listen or misinterpret what is being said chaos results; and it does not have to be so. Developing better communication skills in marriage, like listening, clarifying meanings, and making explicit statements can prevent arguments and save marriages. The worse breakdown of communication between husbands and wives is when they engage in the silent treatment. When one or both spouses refuse to discuss an offense or difference of opinion, nothing can be resolved. A disagreement that results in a stalemate is fuel for the fire of divorce. How can a problem be fixed that cannot be first defined? If no one will talk intelligently and calmly about why a husband or wife is angry with their mate, then it is virtually impossible to come to an agreement and resolve the issue. The solution is to apply better communication skills in marriage by voicing personal displeasure in ways that are not aggressive, accusatory, or intimidating. "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver" (Proverbs 25:11). Couples should say what they mean and mean what they say, but say it in such a way that will not inflame an already volatile situation. Learning to be an effective listener and a more effective interpreter could add longevity to a marriage and levity to an otherwise impossible situation.