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Effective Communication in Marriage
Many marriage counselors identify communication as the main problem in marriage. Lack of communication has a devastating effect on the couple, leading to emotional isolation. Since communication nurtures relationships, it is important for couples to master this skill to strengthen the marital bond. It is a way of enabling spouses to meet each other’s needs, while meeting their own needs.
Men and women have different ways of communicating. Perhaps it is biologically determined. Social upbringing, culture and environment can influence the way people communicate. In some cultures, women are shy and find it difficult to express themselves. Men tend to focus on impersonal objective things. Women are more involved in the emotional and personal dimensions of life. Men have difficulty speaking and expressing their innermost thoughts. They shy away from praise.
There are different levels of communication. Speaking alone constitutes about 50% of all communication. Body language, facial expressions, tone of voice can communicate anger, sadness, happiness and other emotions. Communication is not just the exchange of information. It can be sharing of feelings, details of daily events, discussion of matters affecting home and family. Without open communication between husband and wife, it is impossible to guess what is going on in each other’s mind. Assuming they love each other and want to keep their partners happy, they must tell each other what makes them happy. A mind reader cannot rest on assumptions. They should communicate at every level and in every field of life. They have to make many decisions in their marital journey. If they don’t communicate and make decisions together, life won’t be easy. Everyone may have their own ideas about how to deal with a particular problem. Only communication will facilitate decision making through understanding, discussion and cooperation.
Speaking and listening are two aspects of communication. Conversations should be warm and loving, not loud and abrasive.
“Let your conversation always be gracious.” (Colossians 4:6.)
Harmful words should be filtered out. If romantic and sexual needs are not properly expressed, frustration and lack of real intimacy will result. Intimate self-expression and expressions of affection draw the couple closer. Sex is considered the highest level of communication.
During the first months of marriage, there is a lot of communication between couples. It is a time of discovery, freshness and novelty. They communicate thoughts and feelings through physical intimacy. They focus on each other to the exclusion of everyone else. It is a time of open communication – the freedom to express thoughts, hopes, dreams or even failures.
“Partners need to express what they want, what they feel, and more importantly, what they think others want,” says Richard C. Richard, a philosophy professor
But with time this openness disappears. Men usually start talking less. It becomes difficult to express their love. They don’t appreciate a woman’s looks or her clothes or her culinary skills. The woman began to complain, “He never talks to me. We had so much to say to each other.” Now the conversation is about mundane matters, family needs, money, budget or children’s school fees. If both have busy work and come home late in the evening, they are not in the mood to talk. The woman finds it easy to text her husband that dinner is ready, even though he is reading newspaper or watching TV in the next room.
On being a good listener:
The listener should give undivided attention to what the other is saying. Carelessness can kill communication. Frequent interruptions or unsolicited suggestions can disrupt the flow of communication. The entire message must be heard first. If there are doubts, one can clarify them later. If opinions differ, there should be room for discussion, so that they can reach a mutually satisfactory solution.
How to argue constructively:
It is important to remember that the spouse is not the enemy. Both are batting in the same direction. Arguments are part of every marriage. But couples should develop a healthy communication strategy and argue in the spirit of love. The idea is to recognize and understand the other’s point of view. No threatening gestures, no name calling or swearing, no exaggeration and no blame. Words that hurt others leave ugly scars.
Disturbing topics should not be swept under the carpet. In terms of solutions, they should be discussed in an egalitarian environment.
“Let not the sun go down on your anger,” is a biblical admonition
Even when there is disagreement, there should be mutual respect for the other’s point of view. “Swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger,” and “speak the truth in love,” are important points to remember. If there’s a nagging problem, “bringing the issue out into the open can provoke a temporary crisis,” says psychologist Neville Vines, “but if that crisis is talked about openly, it helps the couple develop skills and insight to deal with future conflicts. Every time a couple has a problem When overcome, it strengthens their marriage — because they learn they can resolve differences.”
If one is too vague about one’s needs, there is no hope of them being met. A woman who feels neglected must bring it to her husband’s attention. “I wish we spent more time together.”
A man who finds his wife uninterested in her work might say, “I love it when you ask me about my day.”
Silence creates a barrier between couples. It breaks communication. A verbal impasse leads to anger, miscommunication, hurt feelings, and rifts in relationships.
There are times when communication requires no words. A husband and wife may be sitting together on the couch watching TV. Their mere proximity to each other may be a form of communication that they prefer to be together. There are times when words are not needed. Body language speaks for itself. The comfort of physical intimacy, a hug or holding hands, assures the couple that they are one. Working together, listening to music, going for a walk are also forms of communication.
Good communication skills ensure that marriage partners nurture each other’s self-esteem.
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