Communication is easy, right? If you speak the same language, it should be easy to understand. Simply say what is on your mind, share your feelings, and ask for the things you need.
If your spouse doesn’t understand you, perhaps the problem is poor listening skills for one or both of you. Or maybe there are variables that you are unaware of. Like the stars in the sky, the complications of good communication can be numberless!
Different Life’s Experiences
What may be fun and exciting to one person may be miserable and frustrating to another. Just like an egocentric 2-year-old, we may think that everyone else thinks and feels the same way we do.
Let’s say a husband and wife went on a roller coaster ride. Upon exiting the ride, the wife says, “That was so much fun! Let’s do it again!”
The husband emphatically says, “No! I don’t want to do it again!”
“When I was little, my dad would throw me up in the air and catch me,” the husband continued.
“My dad did the same thing, too, and that was so much fun!” exclaimed the wife.
“Well, one day when my dad tossed me into the air and the dog ran between his legs. But my dad didn’t catch me on the way down, and I got a concussion!” the husband reported. “So, being on the roller coaster reminds me of that horrific day.”
With different back grounds, it’s easy to see how we can misinterpret communication because of our past experiences.
When feeling contention or a misunderstanding, consider the old saying and song by Elvis Presley, “Walk a mile in my shoes.” To understand the other person on a deeper level, try to see the situation through their eyes. Ponder these few questions to understand their perspective:
What are they not understanding about my perspective?
Is there something I am not understanding about their perspective?
Is there an event or situation from their past that might cause them to see things differently than me?
Interpretation & Incomplete Communication
Think about colors for a moment. If my husband considered buying me a shirt for my birthday, he may ask what my favorite color is. (This would never happen in real life because my husband says I am so particular. But it makes a great example for this idea!)
I could simply say blue is my favorite color.
Then he might buy me a shirt that was navy blue.
I could say, “That was so sweet! Thanks for the gift, but that is not my favorite color. I think you were asking me about that earlier.”
He might respond that I told him blue was my favorite color to which I would say, “Turquoise blue is my favorite, not navy blue.”
This is a silly example, but in regards to topics that really matter, we need to be careful that we are expressing ourselves with more complete detail. Expressing ideas in great detail is against some of our natural tendencies.
What may be worse, is that we may not communicate at all or very vaguely. Somehow we think our spouse should know us well enough to understand what we meant without us communicating clearly. The talent of reading minds is difficult if not impossible for many of us!
Communicate in greater detail. Clarify what the other person means and if you are not sure, don’t assume you understand well enough.
“What I hear you saying is…” is a great clarifying statement. Then you can follow up with “Is that correct?”
After surgery years ago while resting on the couch which took a few minutes to comfortably settle into, I said out loud, “The TV is kind of loud.” My husband just continued to sit in his chair watching the movie.
Um…hey, I need some help please! Did he not clue in to that?
Secret code: “The TV is kind of loud. Will you please turn it down since I just had surgery and am trying to rest my body?” Once I stated the secret code out loud, my husband turned the TV down for me.
The next time you are not totally clear on what your spouse is saying, remember the phrases “What I hear you saying is…” and “Is that correct?” to save a lot of confusion and heartache in your communication.
The Influence of the Adversary
We live in a fallen world where we are enticed by Satan who provides the opposition of negative emotions and sometimes damaging and destructive choices available to us.
The adversary seeks to confound the tongue of men today similarly to the way God confounded the tongues of an ancient people who built a tower thinking they could reach God’s throne. This was God’s way to punish prideful and wicked people. However, Satan seeks to cause confusion, misinterpretation and contention as we strive to communicate effectively, especially in the marriage relationship.
Satan is so subtle that we tend to think when we say or do things that go against our own values that it is our own weakness. We definitely have our free agency or the right to choose what we think and do. But every thought that entices us to do evil originates from the adversary.
A great activity to be more aware of your thoughts that effect how you respond to others in speech and action, is to “be aware” of your thoughts. You could even track your thoughts by writing down 10-20 thoughts and evaluate whether that was a prompting from God’s realm, the adversary or simply your own thinking.
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