Things I’ve Learned in Twenty-Five Years of Marriage – Part 6

Say What You Mean

Photo Credit: elviskennedy via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: elviskennedy via Compfight cc

“His disciples said, ‘Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech!’” ~ John 16:29

When Doris and I first got married, we thought the communication in our relationship was pretty good. We had dated for years, and like many young couples in love, we had spent countless hours talking to one another. Yes, we even did the falling asleep on the telephone thing! Countless conversations about myriad things. Being good communicators once we were married would be a snap, or so we thought.

Effective communication can be thought of as a cycle, a loop, or a game of toss and catch. There are two main parts to the game, tossing (talking) and catching (listening). Both parties are responsible for ensuring that they perform their part well, if they want the cycle to work effectively. The last article discussed the listening part of the loop. This article will discuss the importance of getting the message across or saying what you mean.

Lots of Couples Excel at Small Talk Instead of Real Talk

Early in our marriage it became apparent that we weren’t as effective at communicating as we thought we were. Many couples can relate. We were great when it came to talk about the shallow things in life. What happened during the day, what we wanted to do for dinner, weekend plans, politics, and things like that were simple fodder for discussion. When it came to dealing with the deeper issues for us personally, or as a couple, talking became harder.

Your Spouse Can’t Read Your Mind or Your Smoke Signals

What we discovered was that one of us (me) wasn’t the best at sending messages. You see, back then (and sometimes now if I’m not careful) I’d go out of my way to avoid conflict or hurting someone’s feelings (or doing/saying something I thought would hurt feelings). So when it came to actually plainly speaking about what I thought, saw, needed, or wanted, I was relatively silent. Does that sound familiar? Can you relate?

“Your spouse wants to love you. They want to see you fulfilled. They want to affirm you.”

I thought that I was loving my wife by sparing her from hearing the things I wanted to be different in our marriage, or the things I needed from her. In my mind there was no need to burden her, or the relationship with those things. It was better to simply grin and bear it…keep the peace. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

You see, we are constantly sending messages, we are always communicating. The closer we are to someone, the more messages they receive. Our messages are verbal and nonverbal. They come through our words, actions (or inaction), demeanor, or tone. My wife was receiving messages that clearly said something was awry, but with my mouth I was saying something different.

If the Message Has to be Deciphered Then It Wasn’t Clear

Here’s the problem. In not saying what was on my mind, in not speaking clearly and plainly, I was leaving the message open to interpretation. In the last article I talked about a football wide receiver who juggles and drops the pass. Sometimes the pass is dropped because the quarterback threw an uncatchable pass! When we refuse or are afraid to say what we need or think we hurt our relationship because we hurt communication.

“In not saying what was on my mind…I was leaving the message open to interpretation.”

Think about this. Your spouse wants to love you. They want to see you fulfilled. They want to affirm you. They want to know your needs are met. That is love. But without hearing you clearly articulate what those things may be, it is impossible for them to be what they want to be (and what God wants them to be) as a spouse.

What do you need more of in your marriage? Why? How would it make you feel if you got what you need? Once you’ve answered those questions, ask yourself if you’ve shared those thoughts/answers with your spouse. Let me know in the comments how it works out! If you’re enjoying this series on marriage, consider clicking one of the share buttons to let other know.