Are You Just Communicating? Or Truly Connecting?

Today I’m asking you to read through the blog with the intention of sharing an experience where you learned something about communication. Interacting with you is a joyful blessing in my life and ministry. So read. Think. Share!

The couple walked in to my office and took a seat on the sofa. The couple looked normal enough, and appeared to be respectful of and courteous to one another. After basic introductions and “house cleaning” necessities, I asked the wife if she would explain to me why they had chosen to come for counseling. Like a microwave on high, she instantly set the stage with a diatribe of criticism that was primarily aimed at her husband, the man sitting only inches from her. But she never got to finish, because as quickly as she began, her husband began loudly defending himself from the arrows she was slinging. The conflict went on for two or three minutes before I held up my hand and asked, “Can we all stop for a minute and bring our conversation down to a helpful level?” Both husband and wife turned their heads back and simultaneously answered, “Sure.”

conflict

After a few more minutes of information gathering on my part, I began talking through somewhat of a treatment plan – a course of action, and recommended that one of the first areas attempt to conquer was communication skills. Both husband and wife turned and looked at one another and the wife retorted, “We thought that’s one of the things we did best!” I smiled, breathed in slowly, and explained, “Neither of you appear to have any trouble speaking your mind. But from the small sample of communication I’ve seen between the two of you, I’m telling you that throwing up on one another in a moment of hurt or anger is not effective communication.”

In the coming weeks we waded through the dynamics of effective communication, focusing frequently on respect and resolution. They did not, in their course of therapy, master communication completely. But they did make really good strides sharing their hearts and minds with one another with a focus on resolving their problems, rather than winning.

It seemed that one of the primary faults in their communication with one another was that they were trading information with each other, but they weren’t really connecting. 

Proverbs 18:13
He who answers before listening- that is his folly and his shame.One of the common downfalls in marriages with any longevity at all is that we lose that connectivity we had when we were “young and in love.” The corporate effort to be an effective team seems to fade away like a sunset sinking below the western horizon. We spill our guts when needed, but otherwise seem to be living separate lives that are on truly different paths. 

In a previous post I noted that the longer a couple is married, the more comfortable they become with one another. And although that comfort is a nice thing to experience and observe, it often has children. Bad children. Children that do their best to cut corners and make everything short and easy. The children of comfort can often be apathy, individuation, and maybe most importantly, the loss of connectivity.

Being connected requires intentional effort. Ongoing effort. Unfading, and selfless effort. If that effort is not put forth by both people in the marriage, the likelihood is that one or both are truly going to be connectedJust not to one another.

Spouses tend to get connected to their work, their hobbies, recreation, friends, and in the worst situations, intimate relationships with members of the opposite sex. Remember, affairs are seldom initially about sex. They’re about communication.

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A husband is weary of his wife tuning him out and assaulting him at every turn, so he begins to confide in someone that will listen – sympathize with his plight – tell him he’s right – and offer encouragement that may just be meeting a bigger need in her life at the same time.

There is no possible way to cover the gamut of dynamics needed for truly effective communication in a blog, but there are hundreds and thousands of resources available to us all that can help us begin the journey of communicating with our wives responsibly, lovingly, and intentionally.

Don’t want to put in the work? Then don’t expect it to get better. Willing to make the sacrifices and put forth the effort to make it better? You have no idea how blessed and fulfilling your marriage can be.

Remember, true wisdom comes from experience. We can only learn so much from books or observing others. Having found ourselves in a place we don’t want to be, and putting forth the genuine effort to correct it or make it right, provides the fertile soil for wisdom to both be planted, and to grow.

So agree with your spouse to go through a “check-up from the neck-up.” What are you learning about your own communication style or skills?

I eagerly anticipate hearing from you! Don’t forget to “follow” and share!

And, as always . . .

FINISH WELL!

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About Kyle Hargrove

There's really not much that's all that special about me . . . It was probably about a decade ago when I realized that "in all its glory." At about that time some of life's recent experiences taught me that regardless of who or what anyone ELSE is, and regardless of how much I may have built MYSELF up, I'm just one life circumstance from being just like anyone else. Although my pride took a ding in the process, it was ultimately a positive and humbling experience that gave my life a different direction altogether. I'm a pretty ordinary husband and father . . . Of course, ordinary comes in lots of shapes and colors. My wife Debbi and I have been married since 2000, and both of us had been previously married. She is a school administrator and has a work ethic that has been passed down generationally - usually leaves home in the dark, and for at least half the year, comes home in the dark too. We're praying that as our kids get through college, she can retire and fulfill some of her most intimate dreams. Debbi and I have five children (Adam, Cameron, Callye, Caleb, and Brandon), one grandson (William), one son-in-law (J.R.), somewhere around five "adopted kids," (not officially but in our hearts), and four dogs (Symon, Sombra, Sophie, and Duke). I often say that I love my kids and love my dogs, but there have been days that I liked my dogs more than my kids. That is of course, suggested in jest . . . mostly :) One of our sons has completed college, and the other four kids are still finding their way through that maze. We love Auburn University (Debbi's alma mater), and Texas A&M University (doesn't everyone?) It took a long time for me to understand my job . . . Professionally, I've had the opportunity to experience some fairly diverse "job titles." I came up as a burgeoning sports journalist, switched to church staff ministry, returned to school to earn two masters degrees, entered the world of private practice, experienced the world of corporate training, founded a Christ-centered residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation center, and enjoyed some more private practice. Oh, on top of that, I have enjoyed the thrill of becoming a teaching chef in my spare time. All of that took a lot of learning, understanding, and energy. But in 2003 through the benefit of Fellowship of the Sword, a ministry out of Fort Worth, Texas, God showed me what my real job was, and for the first time ever, I really, really "got it." He showed me that my real purpose in this life was to first serve Him, and in the outflow of that, to serve my wife, serve my children, and serve anyone else, anywhere else, who exhibited any need, whatsoever. For a very egocentric person, learning to serve is initially kind of hard. But as the blessings start to roll in, it becomes a joyous lifestyle. It's not always easy. I'm not always successful (I'm still kind of selfish). But it is one of the highest privileges I enjoy - the calling from God - to serve people - just like He did. If we're going to develop the character of Jesus, we had better get serving - the sooner the better. Cooking, singing, golfing, reading, speaking, teaching, and writing . . . Those are a few of my favorite pastimes outside of "work." I try to not let those things define who I am, but sometimes the golf thing gets in the way a little bit. And I'm really not that good. But I value my recreation and free time. I love being around people, and meet very few "strangers," but need "me time" too. I prefer outdoors to indoors, cool weather to hot weather, mountains to the beach, and being active to sitting still. I have traveled the world, and want to find new places, and visit the previous ones again. You could say I was born with a sense of wanderlust. I want to encourage you . . . This blog may have themes but the desire to write it, and the commitment to maintain it is about one thing more than any other. If through the blog, you can be encouraged, recharged, reminded, uplifted, motivated, or if you can just relate to something you read, I will sleep well and know that God has used something - as benign as it may seem on the surface, to help you move forward in understanding who you are, and what your purpose ultimately is. Life was intended to be dynamic - not static. One of my good friends Ricky Bobby once said, "If you ain't first, you're last." Although there may be some detractors to the actual truth (or benefit) of that statement, don't you want to live your life progressing? I don't want to sit around and wish I was getting better at what I do, or who I am. I was born to pursue - to improve - to invent - to move forward. When it's all said and done, I'd like to know that I ran after God, rather than for Him to have had to run after me. We'll all be challenged . . . Writing is sometimes as much about me as it is about you. My "bag of tricks" comes as much from my own experiences as it does anything I've learned from a textbook. I don't know about you (actually I do but certainly can't speak for you), but the things I have learned in this life have typically come from challenging circumstances, mistakes I've chosen to make, mistakes I've unintentionally made, places I shouldn't have been, and a myriad of other mostly-painful experiences. I think we're a lot alike. And I think we're about to find out. As always my friends . . . FINISH WELL!

Posted on November 25, 2015, in For Men, For Parents, For Women, Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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