Nwachukwu Appolonia U.
Often, communication in marriage doesn’t lie much with what we say but how we say what we say and how we respond to what is said. This principle determines understanding and laughter or misunderstanding and insult. Little wonder, Prov. 15:1 says that “a soft answer turns away wrath but grievous words stir up anger.” Crises in marriage always begin because couples do not know how to communicate. Thus, we shall be discussing few among the numerous skills of communication that can help to arrest marital crisis.
Listen carefully: We run into marital crisis due to lack of understanding. Often times most people are not good listeners. We are impatient and always in a hurry to respond. We should always try to hear your spouse out before turning into conclusion or giving in to action. We sometimes seek to be understood but we don’t try to understand others. Good understanding eliminates crises. We have good understanding when we listen carefully. Some men often said to be guilty of not giving detailed attention to their spouses. Either because they are said to belittle their wives or due to other influences as to status, knowledge and resources. On the other hand, some women are equally judged to be ambiguous as some words are probably said through emotions. In other cases; the use of phone, chewing of gum and other ill manners amount to disrespect during communication. Nevertheless, both parties must develop the habit of listening to each other very well. God mandated Abraham to listen to what Sarah had to say even though it was displeasing to him (Gen 21:9-12).
Avoid being domineering: We are aware that communication involves the sender and the receiver. One person cannot function as both the receiver and the sender. Spouses should give themselves fair hearing – even when your feel that he/ she is wrong. Freedom of expression should also be obtainable. It is a fundamental human right that should be respected. Freedom of expression brings relief and healing. Job expressed himself when he says in Job 32:17-20 “I said, I will answer also my part, I also will show my opinion. For I am full of matter, the spirit within me constraints me. Behold my belly is as wine which has no vent; it is ready to burst now bottles. I will speak, that I may be refreshed. I will open my lips and answer.” When there is no expression, we burst like bottles when we don’t expect.
Good use of social media: Social Media enables the users to create and share content or participate in social networking. It comprises FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM, WECHAT, WHATSAPP, YOUTUBE and the likes, and is accessible with the use of android phones, computers, Ipads e.t.c. There’s no doubt regarding the positive effect of social media on mutual relationship especially when the partners are apart for some reasons. However, it has been observed that it does more harm than good. The platform has the largest population of people of different classes and philosophies of life and is loaded with adverse kinds of information which may not be very profitable to mutual relationship. Couples should be well informed about some of the evil associated with this media and be able to do a kind of cost benefit analysis in this respect. This will give them better stand in making decision regarding their choice of communication media. They must also guard against addictions.
Always apply self control: No matter your grievances or your level of pain. Don’t forget to control yourself. Do not shout at or raise your voice in anger against your spouse. Shouting while communicating your dissatisfaction worsens issues further. You are even better understood when you are calm. You should also watch your words so as not to say what you will eventually regret. This is where the principle of what to say comes in. Prov. 25:11 says that “a word filthy spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.”
Make use of Non-verbal Communication: In most cases non-verbal means of communication is faster and more effective though it has some cons but it should be used in a positive sense. Surprise gifts convey your heart faster than verbal expressions. You attitudes towards your spouse’s relatives can tell volume of the value you place on him or her. Love is real when demonstrated. Consider Mary Magdalene with her alabaster oil Jar on Jesus feet and the apostle whom Jesus visited. She never told Jesus anything regarding the volume of love she had for him in her heart, but in demonstration, Jesus quickly understood and commended her (Luke 7:45-47). Do not wait for your spouse to cry over anything that is within your reach to provide. You should quickly do it at the right time, once the need is identified. Undue denial is a clear sign of ‘loveless-ness’ which does not in any way help relationship. Body contact should also be applied as volumes can be communicated effectively through this means.
Clarity without carried forward of cases: in crises management, go straight to the immediate cause and make your case simple and clear. When past occurrences are brought forward, the case is made ambiguous, complex and destructive. In fact it is the carryover crises that kill marriages the most and not the immediate.
Proper timing: In crises management, good timing is very essential. The disposition of both couples is an important variable in achieving effectiveness in conflict resolution. Both parties should be physically and emotionally disposed before dialogue of any kind.
Avoid communication gap: communication is an indispensable tool that must be used in marriage but with utmost carefulness. Communication gap is the fastest marriage destroyer because it breeds crises. Marriage is the highest form of mutual relationship or friendship. When best of friends cease communication the relationship dies off. Where there is no communication relationship doesn’t exist. Therefore, couples should always take out time for discussions on a daily basis. There should not be any room for staying apart because it creates unbridgeable gap among couples which brings about dissatisfaction and crises. Also at the face of crises, there should not be shut down of communication. Couples must try to still communicate against all odds. Communication is the air that gives life to every marriage. There should always be conjugal communication. Avoid the use of “I will divorce you”, “Useless man or woman”, “I regret marrying you”, “You are bloody liar”, “You are so wasteful”, and “I hate you, are you even a man?”
Be honest and sincere: Eph: 4:15 “But speaking the truth in love may grow up into him in all things which is the head, even Christ.” We should not mean a thing and say another. We should be transparent with our words. In most cases couples lie against themselves to win an argument. It does more harm than good. You must be ready to own up your fault if crises would ever end. If not, it can go on as cold war which can collapse the marriage on long run. Be open to your partner as nothing is new under the sun (Gen 2:25).
Communication has been found to be a tool that is double edged which is capable of building and at the same time destroying a relationship depending on its use. Communication binds mutual relationship when it is carefully and effectively used and vise-versa. In a speech delivered by Idi Amin, the third President of Uganda, ruling from 1971-1979, he averred that, “there is freedom of speech, but I cannot guarantee freedom after speech” Hence, couples are advised to carefully apply the skills discussed in this article for effective communication in order to achieve a good and successful mutual relationship in marriage.