What are we saying and what is being heard?
As I was reviewing some of my notes and former class material on relationships, I came across the following five important communication reminders for parents.
But they’re not just for parents communicating with their children, but also for couples who struggle every day to share and better understand each other. I have rewritten them to include spouses as well as parents and children.
Communication – for everyone
1. Listen – just listen. Don’t be so quick to respond. Be quiet or validate the feelings of the speaker. Do not judge, or criticize, or come up with your answer to someone else’s problem.
Silence can be the most effective and helpful tool a listener has.
Pay attention to what is being said. Can you listen from the other’s point of view? Don’t think about what you want to say in response and don’t interrupt. Give the other person time to compose his thoughts.
Be there in the moment. Don’t bring up the past or attack with your own list of complaints or criticisms.
2. Don’t criticize or judge. We often dismiss our kids or our spouse when they talk about struggles they are having. Some of what is said can trigger an instantaneous response from us; we have the solution and if they just did things the way we would, they would have no problem. But it infers that you are smart and the other is stupid. Judging anyone places you in a superior position to the other.
We can have an opinion about behaviors and actions, but we do not know the heart of someone who is struggling. If you want to encourage, check your reactions.
You can support and confirm the other’s ability to problem solve by substantiating their feelings. “I didn’t realize such things bothered you.” This opens the door to communication rather than slamming it shut.
3. Talk from the heart. When someone uses heart talk with you, the language of feelings and emotions, don’t respond intellectually with head-talk. It diminishes the other person’s feelings and they often will not talk about them again.
4. Don’t assume. We hold preconceived notions about the people we live with and work with. These can hamper communication. Don’t assume that you know another person’s thoughts or feelings. Find out.
5. Show your love. Actions can be as important as words – oftentimes more important.
Marriage is an extremely complex institution.
It takes courage, determination and resiliency to maintain a long-lasting relationship. Happy marriages are based on a deep friendship and mutual respect for and enjoyment of each other’s company.
Couples who have this know each other intimately.
They know each other’s likes, dislikes, personality quirks, hopes and dreams. They have an abiding regard for each other and express fondness in little ways day in and day out. They have found ways to stay connected.
They maintain their friendship because it is the foundation of their love.
Friendship fuels flames of romance.
When we are dating our future mate, we want to be with that person as much as possible. We share our hopes and dreams along with our past. Somewhere along the way, however, we stop doing that after we are married. Instead of discovering more of each other, we focus on all the problems of life and forget to continue building that relationship that was so important to us.
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