What Are You Saying?

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29

I’m laid up recovering from surgery for an Achilles’ tear. Avoid that if at all possible. It’s an onerus surgery and it takes nearly 12 weeks of recovery…can you say muscle atrophy? I borrowed much of this from Dr. Les and Leslie Parrotts again, and as always they have it well-said and I’m grateful they are out here in the war to create and sustain healthy marriages. Barb and I recently had a chance to exercise some of our listening and communication skills and I gotta tell you this stuff works. I have had to really knuckle down on remembering how to listen rather than just giving my sweetie solutions. Barb has had to be sensitive to asking for a time to talk when we need to cut out all distractions. An interesting comparison between men’s and women’s brains is on this funny video, but it a lot of truth: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQ9L9YBJkk8. If you are ever in a conference with us again, you may see this another time. Communication that works well and works best doesn’t just happen by accident. It is a learned skill. For example:

Maryella wore a wool jacket to work one day and on her way home she decided to get the car washed. Since it had warmed up outside, she slipped her jacket off while she waited for the car to be cleaned. The next morning, her jacket was nowhere to be found. Maybe I left it at the car wash, she wondered as she called the number. “Did I leave a burgundy blazer there yesterday?” she asked the young man who answered. A minute later he returned from checking. “I’m sorry, Ma’am. There’s no burgundy Blazer here, just a gray Bronco.”

Most of you have heard of the three guys walking along the road and the first one says, “It sure is windy.” The second replies, “No, I think it’s Thursday.” The third nods and replies, “I’m thirsty, too, let’s go get a drink.”

These are just some others in a long string of examples, of how easy it is to miscommunicate. It happens all the time, especially in marriage. Men and women, as has been pointed out in numerous best-sellers, sometimes communicate like they are from different planets.

A survey of more than 1,000 married couples reported in U.S. News and World Report found that we don’t even talk about the same things. The leading discussion subject for men is news events (talked about in the previous week by 71 percent of respondents), followed by work (68 percent).

Women, on the other hand, talked about food (76 percent) and health (72 percent). Men were far more likely to have talked about sports (65 percent to women’s 42 percent); women were more likely to have discussed personal problems (52 percent to men’s 40 percent).

Whatever the topic, however, we share one thing in common. Husbands and wives depend on communication to keep their relationship running. It is the lifeblood of every marriage. Couples who can’t communicate well, who don’t speak clearly and listen carefully, soon fall apart.

Good communication is as stimulating as black coffee. –Anne Morrow Lindbergh

So when was the last time the two of you talked about talking? Sounds strange, we know. But it’s important to take inventory of our communication capacities now and then. Consider how well you are doing at this important task. If you were to rate your effectiveness on a scale of one to ten, how well do you communicate as a couple? And why do you rank it at that level? Another important question: How would you rate yourself when it comes to listening to your partner? Be honest and nondefensive as you talk to each other about this. What seems to distract you most (e.g., your cell phone) while you’re trying to have a conversation and why? More importantly, what will you do to minimize the distraction? After all: “The road to the heart is the ear,” wrote Voltaire. Carefully listening to your partner is the quickest path to intimacy. Please remember that the framework of good communication rests on the foundation of clear rules of engagement. Those of you who have worked with us have heard how to make this happen in your home…”Couple’s Dialogue” – “Random Acts of Kindness” – “Servant’s Hearts.” If you need a tune up or a check up, you know how to find us. We care a lot about that and about YOU. Reflect: What can you do this week to improve your communication?