Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Marriage Basics Series – Communication


The Bible is the Word of God intended to communicate God’s Will to mankind. The Gospel of John begins by telling us that Jesus came from heaven to earth in the likeness of man so that He might show us the Father and help us to understand what He wants. Jesus gathered multitudes and told them the wonderful message He was sent to tell. He then sent messengers into all the world to communicate this Good News Gospel to all mankind.

The Bible is a picture of God’s purpose filled attempts to communicate with us. He teaches us that just saying it might not be enough … more attention might be needed if we are to accomplish our goals of making sure others hear and accurately understand the message we are sending. Jesus used more than words to communicate His message. The Apostle Paul was also concerned about people understanding the words some chose to use.

1 Corinthians 14:19  But in a church meeting I would rather speak five understandable words to help others than ten thousand words in an unknown language.

Many people are poor communicators and perhaps a fair portion of those don’t realize it or can’t imagine they aren’t being understood. They feel the frustration of conversations and may wonder why their expectations are not met but they have no conscious consideration as to why and no idea how to fix it.

There is a principle that says: When you are doing something that is not working, just continuing to do it more won’t fix it.
·        More of the same will only get more of the same.
·        Nothing changes until something changes.

Nowhere can this be seen more than in the area of communication .

1.   People attempt to communicate using:
a.   Spoken Words
b.   Written Words
c.   Gestures
d.   Body Language
e.   Messengers
2.   We have not communicated simply because we made an attempt.
3.   Until the intended message is received with the same intent as sent, communication has not taken place.

Imagine yourself in a relationship with someone who did not speak the same language as you. Communication could be difficult. Extra time would need to be taken on the part of the speaker to making sure understandable words and gestures were used as well as close attention paid on the part of the listener. Hopefully over time two people could learn how to best send the message they wanted the other to receive.

I have had the occasion to travel in many foreign countries over the past 4 decades or so. While living in Europe for a few years it was a continual necessity for me to take extra time and pay close attention to each conversation in order to make certain I was understanding and being understood lest I ended up at the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong expectations. Misunderstandings were always a potential and it took work to insure effective communication.

I have had several occasions when even with a translator the right message was hard to communicate because of customs and cultures, as well as feelings which are meant to accompany a message which can be difficult to translate. Nonetheless, I have found that if two people are willing to work and try not to be offended when no offense is meant, communication can take place even in difficult times.

When it comes to marriage people often imagine they speak the same language simply because they grew up in the same country, lived in the same community or went to the same school. We assume people who are close to us understand what we mean because we know exactly what we mean. This is one of the most difficult problems in marriage.

However, to assume you speak the same language as your spouse would be dangerous and often incorrect. You may be from different planets.
·        Meanings are not in words … meanings are in people.

Words are very imprecise vehicles of communications and unless you understand the language of your spouse, children and friends, you may often misunderstand and be misunderstood. Here are some things we need to consider when attempting to communicate with others … especially with our spouse. Ask yourself:

1.   What makes the most sense to me?
a.   Words
b.   Actions
c.   Feelings
2.   What makes the most sense to my spouse?
a.   There is not one best way to communicate.
b.   The best way to communicate is the way that works.
c.   If it’s not working … guess what … it’s not working!
3.   First seek to understand before seeking to be understood.
a.   If your spouse says something with which you disagree or are offended by and their reply is “that’s not what I meant”, believe them. Why? Because it’s not what they meant!
b.   If there has been need for clarification in the past or if you are unsure, repeat what you think you heard before you act.

One of the worst things about poor communication is that if allowed to continue without remedy spouses can either get into the destructive habit of arguing over things they don’t even disagree on or one or both of them stop feeling it is worth the effort to even try to be understood any longer.

If you are having a problem with communication why not go ahead and take a look at the things we have heard tonight.
·        What language do I speak?
·        How does that differ from my spouse?
·        What can I do to learn to better communicate and to more accurately understand them in their language?

If they don’t mean to be a problem … that should go a long way in giving you patience and hope.