Part 1 of 2
We all know that good communication is key for a successful marriage. But good communication doesn't always come easily. So, for the next two weeks let's examine how to overcome the barriers in communication. This week we will tackle the two very important issues: the silent spouse and valid anger.
The Silent Spouse:
So your spouse is the silent type. This can make communication very difficult. But are you spurring on this behavior? Let me give you some suggestions.
1. Stop saying "I wish you'd talk more." This is condemning and does not stimulate conversation.
2. Ask specific questions. "How was your day?" is much too general. "What did you have for lunch today?" is much better. Start with soliciting facts, later you can move to feelings.
3. Check your own output. If you are talking too much, your spouse will never talk more. Did you hear about the little boy who asked his father for help in writing a paper on "garden Clubs"? His father said: "Son, I don't know anything about Garden Clubs, go ask your mother." To which the little boy responded, "Dad, I don't want to know that much."
4. Replace criticisms with compliments. "John, I really appreciate you taking out the garbage." Is much better than "About time you took the garbage out, the flies were going to carry it out for you." Compliments encourage talking. Criticism closes the door.
Valid anger grows out of a concern for right, but much of our anger comes from a self-centered heart. Our spouse rubbed us the wrong way, or we didn't get what we wanted, so we got angry. This is distorted anger and reveals our own selfish attitude. So we sulk, and withdraw in silence, or we lash out with hurtful words.
A lady said to me recently, "My husband gets mad about the least little thing. I can't talk to him because I'm afraid I will say something that will trip his anger." On the other hand, he complained, "She never wants to spend any time with me." Hey guys Wake Up. If she is running from you, there is a reason.
Why not sit down and say, "I know I'm not a perfect husband, but I want to improve. Can you tell me what bothers you most about my behavior?" Then hold on to your chair and listen. When she says, "Your angry outburst really hurt me." Believe her, and ask for her advice on how you can manage your anger. Having lived with you, she has read the books and will have some good advice.
A husband said to me: "My wife is so fragile emotionally; I don't want to hurt her, so I keep all my feelings inside, but sometimes I feel like I'm going to explode." Do you think this husband is doing his wife a favor? I think he's destroying his marriage. The Bible says that we are to speak the truth in love. Both of these are important: speak the truth and do it in a loving way.
Remember love edifies. Love builds up. Love seeks to do what is best for the other person. Holding your frustrations, hurts, and pain inside is not for the good of your mate or your marriage. In fact, it is extremely unfair. Your spouse cannot respond to your pain if they are not aware of it.
You might say: "Darling I love you very much and I realize that I have wronged you by not sharing this with you sooner. I didn't want to hurt you, but that's no excuse. Please hear me; I'm not trying to put you down. I'm trying to let you know how I feel." Then tell the truth. Now your spouse has a chance to help. You might be surprised at their response.
Adapted from The Marriage You've Always Wanted by Dr. Gary Chapman.