Tag Archives: communication

Focus on Marriage, Part 2: Communication 101

Golden Wedding Ring  by Danilo Rizzuti courtesy of  FreeDigitalphotos

Communicating within marriage is a key tool for resilient relationships.  What is communicated?  How is the message shared and received?  As clergy, one of the key skills I review with couples in pre-marital counseling are tools for communication. Engaged couples can’t imagine this will ever be a problem.  Yet, we’ve all witnessed at restaurants the quiet couple at the table who seemingly have nothing to say to each other, eating silently and spending more time on their phones than in communication with each other. What happened?

Good communication, as with any skill, takes intentional practice. In busy lives, communication with a spouse can become shorter and more infrequent over time, especially when there are children. It is easy to let good communication skills slip.Some surveys indicate that couples can spend as little as 15 minutes a day in real communication with each other. Here are a few suggestions to help improve the quality and quantity of communication.

Communication 101

 Set aside time to talk. In busy schedules time for important conversations is easily lost.  By important, I don’t mean wills, and trusts, though they are important too.  Rather, what is important in your spouse’s life? What is important to you? What are your long term dreams as a couple? Try to set asaide 30-45 minutes a few times a week to talk.

 Have an attitude of gratitude. Express appreciation when your spouse does something considerate or helpful, like providing a sleep in day, washing dishes, filling the car with gas, and so forth. Simply saying thank you for the way each person fills the everyday roles in the relationship can help build up the marriage.

 Talk about the things that worry you.  Many parents hold on to grief, guilt, and anxiety about the future.  There can be a sense of embarrassment in sharing these feelings inside the marriage. “I wish I could say to my spouse that I am scared about….” Or “I have never said it out loud, but I feel our child has a disability because of me.”  Communication about these secretly held feelings can be very healing, releasing an emotional burden.

 Express your needs or wants clearly. Be specific when communicating with your spouse. Avoid thinking that he or she can read your mind. If you have a need or expectation, remove the guess work and let your spouse know.

 Model Respectful Listening. Avoid multi-tasking, especially when the topic is serious in nature. Reflective listening is also a good tool.  Repeat back in your own words what you hear your partner say.

 Monitor your mood. No one is in a good mood all the time. If in a bad mood, why is that? Hunger, fatigue, illness, time, expectations? Let your spouse know if you are having a bad day and why. It may help avoid an argument.

The rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called Woman, for out of Man this one was taken.” Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh. (Genesis 2:22-24 NRS)

Loving God, thank you for the gift of words and expression. Help us to use those gifts to build up our relationships. Amen

Lorna Bradley

“Golden Wedding Ring”  by Danilo Rizzuti courtesy of  FreeDigitalphotos.net

 

Focus on Marriage

Golden Wedding Ring  by Danilo Rizzuti courtesy of  FreeDigitalphotos

Last week I conducted a small focus group of special needs parents on the topic of marriage.  Two of the most rewarding and most challenging relationships we enter into are that of spouse and parent. Both relationships are full of wonderful rewards, surprises, and joys. They may also be filled with heart-break, miscommunication and challenges.  When a child with extraordinary needs is part of this dynamic, the challenges within relationships can increase exponentially.

Based on the input from my focus group I will be offering to a support group that I lead three weeks of strategies to help strengthen marriages in the areas where they expressed the most concerns.  Each week I will share that information with my readers. Keep an eye out in the coming weeks for ideas related to communication, careers and staying connected.

No one has a perfect marriage, including me.  For that I am grateful. Perfect is over-rated.  Perfect leaves no room for learning, trying new things, exploring life together, making mistakes, and finding forgiveness. Real marriages need work and attention, even more so for those with special needs children. While we are not perfect, we are made for relationships from the moment we are born. Relationships that matter are worth our time and attention.

The rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called Woman, for out of Man this one was taken.” Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh. (Genesis 2:22-24 NRS)

Loving God, thank you for the realtionships in our lives that sustain us, filling us with love and hope. Help us to strengthen all of our relationships and equip us to repair the ones that are fragile and in need of healing. Amen

Lorna Bradley

“Golden Wedding Ring”  by Danilo Rizzuti courtesy of  FreeDigitalphotos.net