Most couples can tell hope-filled stories from their seasons of dating and engagement—of endless conversations learning about each other and dreaming of their future together.
Most couples can also tell ordinary-day stories from after the wedding. When hurt feelings crept in. When the talking and dreaming pretty much stopped. And it often comes down to poor communication—one of the most common concerns in marriage.
Miscommunication is no surprise …
We all know that men and women are inherently different. So it’s no shock that their communication styles are different, too, which can lead to a whole mess of miscues.
One size never fits all, of course. But men tend to use language to convey information and fix problems. Women are more likely to see language as a path to greater intimacy—a way to build cooperation instead of competition.
In other words, a husband and wife can have very different takeaways from a conversation. What one thinks is the other’s hidden agenda can be a 180 from what the speaker really meant. That’s when misunderstanding and conflict builds.
… But good communication is no secret
Even though poor communication is a common problem, it’s also one of the easiest to solve—if you’re willing to learn some basic skills and put them into practice.
- Commit to loving instead of being loved. True love is selfless, and loving someone means accepting them as they are (we’re all works in progress!). So learn about your spouse’s communication style, and find ways to adapt. You might not always feel heard or understood. But make it your goal to hear your partner’s heart rather than key in on your own frustration.
- Make a weekly date and try a communication exercise. One of you can talk for a few minutes about what’s on your heart. The other spouse just listens, responding only if something needs clarification—for example, I don’t understand; could you restate that? Switch sides and follow the same rules. Then, let the conversation stand. Don’t try to “straighten each other out,” don’t get angry about something you didn’t like hearing, and don’t debate an issue.
- Find support for the journey. Attend a Christian marriage retreat, participate in a couples’ support group through church, or make an appointment with a licensed Christian marriage counselor.
The ordinary days of marriage can become some of your richest, so be intentional about how you spend them. Ask God for the wisdom and grace to honor your commitment as husband and wife. Enjoy each other’s uniqueness. Honest conversations in safe give-and-take moments can remind you why you first fell in love. And those can lead to new, deeper dreams for your future together.
Want more insight? Milan and Kay Yerkovich are experts in communication patterns and authors of How We Love. They share their thoughts in Focus on the Family’s broadcast “Growing Your Marriage in Times of Stress.” Both are available through Focus’ Online Store.
Focus on the Family’s Counseling Staff is a group of highly experienced, state-licensed clinicians and pastoral counselors who specialize in addressing personal and family issues from a biblical perspective. Integrating faith into daily life, high regard for the Word of God, and a commitment to serve others with compassion are deep passions for this team as they conduct up to 1,500 phone consults each month. Focus on the Family offers free consultation through 1-855-771-HELP and referrals for more in-depth care through Focus on the Family’s Christian Counselors Network. Focus has enjoyed a long and valued referral relationship with Meier Clinics and other like-minded agencies who serve the cause of Christ in their clinical work.