Today I’m asking you to read through the blog with the intention of sharing an experience where you learned something about communication.
A man and woman walked in to my office and took a seat on the sofa. They looked normal enough, and appeared to be respectful of and courteous to one another. After basic introductions and “house cleaning” necessities, I asked the woman 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 fiancé, the man sitting only inches from her. But she never got to finish, because as quickly as she began, the man 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 turned their heads back and simultaneously answered, “Sure.”
After a few more minutes of information gathering on my part, I began talking them through somewhat of a strategy – a course of action, and recommended that one of the first areas attempt to conquer was communication skills. Both the man and the woman turned and looked at one another and she said, “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. The duo 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.
“He who answers before listening- that is his folly and his shame.“Proverbs 18:13
One of the common downfalls in relationships or 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.
The longer people are in a relationship, the more comfortable they become with one another. Although that comfort is a nice thing to experience and observe, it often has children. Bad children. The kind 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 a relationship, the likelihood is that one or both are truly going to be connected.
Just not to one another.
People tend to get connected to their work, their hobbies, recreation, friends, and in the worst situations, intimate relationships with members of the opposite sex. Affairs are seldom initially about sex. They’re about communication.
A wife is weary of her husband tuning her out and assaulting her at every turn, so she begins to confide in someone that will listen – sympathize with her plight – tell her she’s right – and offer encouragement that may just be meeting a bigger need in his 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 in our relationships 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 friendships, relationships, and marriages can be.
Remember, true wisdom comes from experience. We can only learn so much from books or observing others. Having found ourselves in places we don’t want to be, and putting forth the genuine effort to correct the problem, provides the fertile soil for wisdom to both be planted, and to grow.
So agree with your BFF, boyfriend or girlfriend, or spouse to go through a “check-up from the neck-up.” What are you learning about your own communication style or skills?
I’m Just Sayin’ . . .