Communication Skills In Marriage

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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.

Biblical Marriage Counseling

The goal of biblical marriage counseling is to offer engaged or existing partners sound scriptural advice to help work through conflict and resolve issues. Because of the high incidence of marital dissolutions in the secular world and among believers, faith-based relationship therapists and spiritual counselors strive to give couples a greater understanding about how to combat situations that threaten the institution. Because God is the Author of marriage, the Word of God is the ultimate authoritative text on marital relationships. Nearly every scenario imaginable on marital relations-from courtship or romance to adultery and divorce--can be found in the Bible! Unlike secular therapies, biblical marriage counseling focuses on scriptural ideals as revealed in the Word of God and the application of doctrinal principles to resolve conflict and facilitate reconciliation. "How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. I have sworn, and I will perform it, that I will keep thy righteous judgments" (Psalm 119:103-106).

Over the last decade, Christian divorce statistics have risen considerably and are now on par with breakups among non-believers. But marital discord is no respecter of persons; and every relationship is susceptible to failure if husbands and wives do not diligently follow biblical marriage counseling advice to sustain a long lasting relationship. In addition to traditional therapies, biblical marriage counseling sessions may address issues of a couple's personal faith, advocate forgiveness as a means of promoting reconciliation, or suggest activities to bring couples in crisis to a more mutual understanding. Therapists will do an initial interview with both partners present to determine the underlying cause of conflict. Areas where matrimony is under attack fall into three major categories: finances, fidelity, and family. Marriages often fail because of money woes stemming from joblessness, indebtedness, or mismanagement of resources. Infidelity, or having a sexual relationship with someone other than one's spouse, is also a major cause of failed unions. Lastly, interference from close family members has the potential to derail a relationship just as much as an adulterous affair.

Husbands and wives who are at odds sometimes need an impartial party to help them correctly identify problems or consider resolutions. Some causes of marital conflict are obvious, such as adultery. But other areas of conflict may have been festering for years without being addressed. Unresolved anger, bitterness, resentment, and guilt are emotions that can erode a relationship over time. In biblical marriage counseling, the first objective after defining underlying problems will be to bring each spouse to the realization of God's will for the union. The Father's will is usually reconciliation except where spousal abuse is an issue. But before healing can begin, couples must find the inner strength to forgive.

Through role playing, an application of the Word of God, and conflict resolution therapies, biblical marriage counseling can shed light on old issues or potential problems that can hinder couples from having a happy home. Spiritual leaders or advisers will direct husbands and wives through the scriptures to find solutions. Certain books of the Bible are dedicated to helping married couples discover how to interact or entreat one another. Almost every subject on wedlock is covered in I Corinthians, Chapter 7; Ephesians, Chapter 5; Song of Solomon, and I Peter 3. Sprinklings of wisdom can also be found in the Book of Proverbs. It can be said that the Bible is in itself a marriage manual of sorts. The first Book of Corinthians shares insightful information on marital intimacy, while Ephesians instructs believers on the respective roles of husbands and wives and how they are to entreat one another. Song of Solomon is a narrative of two lovers which typifies Christ, as the bridegroom and the Church, a sometimes elusive bride. Song of Solomon reveals the intense passionate love between a man and a woman which cannot be quenched by distance, time or space.

Understanding respective roles of husbands and wives can help couples defer to one another without strife or debate. "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;" .. . "So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh" (Ephesians 5:22-25; 28-31).

One of the goals of biblical marriage counseling is to encourage couples in crisis to discover and implement biblical ideals that lead to a successful, long lasting relationship. They must also remember that there is no problem too big for God to solve. The answer might not be readily available to those who are in crisis; but with the help of qualified secular or spiritual biblical marriage counseling, partners should find a solution to perplexing issues that plague the institution of holy wedlock. Those who would seek to become reconciled or avoid divorce should devote themselves to studying God's Word and perhaps, discussing points of interest with their spouse or spiritual adviser. As husbands and wives strive to cleave to one another, forgive past transgressions, and allow the Holy Spirit to lead and to guide, they will soon discover that the greatest deterrent to divorce is love.

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