A few days ago, I was thinking of “barriers to effective communication within marriages. I started brainstorming, looking at my marriage and thinking of the experience of others. I must say my biblical knowledge quickly influenced the direction of my thoughts. I decided to introduce the discussion on my Facebook page and the responses sent me to a deeper place and I had to put put letters to screen :).
As a result of my deep thinking and some of my friends on Facebook sharing their heart on the matter, I decided to share four possible barriers to communication within the Marriage Relationship.
- Pride – Pride literally cripples you. It has nothing good to offer. I am speaking of the pride that hinders us from doing what is right. The Pride that is more concerned about how we look on the outside and how people perceive us. The Pride that distorts reality trapping us in a world where our identity is defined by how we dress, the type of vehicle we drive, who our friends are, where we work and our achievements. We are therefore seeking to keep up appearances. We may get away with keeping up appearances on the outside but at home it can really hurt us and destroy the relationships that really matter to us. May I suggest that instead of keeping up appearances at home, we seek to practice accepting accountability for our wrongs, even those that make us ashamed and disappointed in ourselves. Accept that you have flaws, weaknesses and nasty habits to work on. Do not pretend to be who you are not, do not be afraid to face your sins head-on. Many times our Spouses are a blessing to us because they are one of the few persons who would tell us the truth about ourselves. I suggest you listen! Don’t let pride rob you from building a closer relationship with your spouse.
- Distractions – Mobile phones and all it affords – We are in an age of technology at our finger tips. It is like an itch that we think we need to keep scratching. It is a well established and accepted distraction and I believe many couples are struggling with it. Let each man examine himself and pursue change where applicable. Avoid using your phones when your spouse is around and available to chat or to be engaged in doing something with you. Whether it is an opportunity to eat together, or watch the news together or just to be silly together, grab that opportunity to engage each other.
- Passing judgement before hearing the story – Oh how we love to jump to conclusions before hearing the whole story. “He is always coming home late because he doesn’t like being around me!” So you responded to what you think is the reason for him arriving home late, by keeping to yourself and being extra quiet. He is trying to speak to you and you have gone ice cold. Here is another scenario; “She ended the call because I came into the room.” On that evening you had planned together to work on a family project but instead you started to lecture your wife about “Trust”, she get’s upset as she feels judged and storms out the room. One more scenario, “He told his mom what I told him last night, that is why she did not call me today.” We often act on these hunches, assumptions and wrong perceptions. It is important that we act on facts, ask questions if you need to know what really transpired, but don’t draw conclusions from what seems to be the truth.
- This is the final one and it is a big one; failure to forgive. One’s failure to forgive their spouse would certainly be a barrier. Failure to forgive means one spouse is holding something against the other, something they did or did not do, that the husband or wife really disapproved of. Unforgiveness leads one to hate and playing the blame game. It is like a big wall that hinders your relationship from blossoming, from prospering, from moving on. It can lead to behaviours that can cause the relationship to deteriorate further, all because he/she chooses not to let go. Communication between both parties becomes complicated and painful. Solution? Get on your knees and ask God to help you to forgive your spouse. Seek help. Be vulnerable enough to tell your spouse how you feel, let them know that you want to but it is proving difficult. Act against your feelings, love your spouse even when it is hard to forgive and try not to allow your past experiences to negatively influence your communication with your spouse.
The 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians is a lovely chapter to read and reflect on as couples. Read verses 4 to 7. Love is patient, kind, does not envy, is not proud, avoids questionable behaviours, does not think evil of others and more.
I am often amazed how we communicate to our loved ones with such disrespect at times and we make such effort to communicate respectfully to strangers. May you be inspired today to love your spouse enough to take the time to practice the behaviours that would enrich the quality of your communication daily.
Start off by greeting your spouse in the kindest, sweetest way and mean it from the heart. Don’t send mixed messages, don’t be silent when you should be speaking and please be careful what comes out of your mouth. Let your words uplift and inspire your spouse.