I don’t know how many times I’ve heard women say, “My husband just can’t communicate.” I don’t know how many times I’ve heard men say, “I just can’t get a straight answer from my wife.” There is no arguing that men and women communicate differently. God wired-up men and women very differently. While women focus on talking, men often focus on fixing things or finding solutions.
Communication is one of the glues of marriage and other relationships as well. There is no telling how many marriages have been killed by ineffective communication? The bible teaches and life verifies that good communication is not automatic. It must be learned and developed.
Here are some tips for good communication…
- DON’T SEND MIXED MESSAGES: Don’t say one thing and then act another. You can’t expect your spouse to read your mind. Like the man who asked his wife who’d been giving him the silent treatment, “Are you mad at me?” “I’m not mad,” she replied. “Are you sure nothing is wrong?” he asked. “Nothing IS WRONG,” she said. So he tries one last time and says, “I can tell something is wrong.” To which she replies, “WE’LL, IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT IT IS, I’M NOT GOING TO TELL YOU.” Mixed messages and the silent treatment won’t accomplish anything but problems.
- TIMING: Timing is essential for the stand up comedian, the suspense novelist and even in our marriages and families. It’s probably best not to meet the tired spouse who’s been working all day, at the door at the end of their day to say, “We’ve got problems.” When someone is engrossed in something or walking out the door are not times to say, “Let’s talk.” There’s an old Chinese proverb that says, “Bad timing equals fireworks.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1,7).
- PLAN: Plan your words before you say them. Solomon said in Proverbs 16:23, “Intelligent people think before they speak.” That means you don’t shoot from the hip, and you don’t sling your words around carelessly. Planning your words means never using derogatory words like dumb, stupid, idiot and other words that tear down.
- FOCUS: If you focus on your spouse’s needs (or children’s needs), they will listen. You don’t want to communicate to someone but with someone. (Ephesians 4:29, 5:28-29)
- LISTEN: We like talking much more than listening, but a good communicator will seek to understand then to be understood. Don’t be like the jerk I know that recently said this about his wife, “If I want my wife’s opinion, I’ll give it to her.” Be a good listener. You listen with your eyes when you make eye contact. You listen with your body by focusing on what’s being said. “He who answers before listening – this is his folly and shame” Proverbs 18:13.
- ENCOURAGE: Speak positively not abrasively. Any fool can be a critic. Labeling, negativity, nagging and sarcasms don’t work and aren’t healthy communication. Try and finish all communication by building up, not tearing down. (Proverbs 16:21-24, Ephesians 4:26).
- REAFFIRM: Following any discussion that gets heated or when you disagree with one another, it’s always good to reaffirm your commitment to one another and reaffirm your love for one another.
So, two questions for you today…
- What do you see is the biggest problem in communication between men and women?
- The “inability to communicate” is one of the top 5 reasons for divorce in our nation. Here’s a list of the top 5 reasons for divorce today (unranked): Money, Sexual Problems, Communication, A Cheating Spouse, Children & In-laws. Rank these in the order you think they fall from #1 to #5.