“Let your speech be always gracious and in good taste, and strive to respond properly to all who address you.” Colossians 4:6
John and Diane, like most couples who come into my office for marriage counseling want to learn communication skills. They have been married for 11 years and have four children under the age of eight.
They tell me they just don’t seem to be able to get along anymore. “All we do is fight”, said John. “I say something – almost anything and Diane interprets it to mean that I’m telling her she’s doing something wrong. She get’s defensive, I get angry and World War III breaks out.”
Diane sees it a little differently. “Whatever I do is never good enough for John. If I clean the house, it’s not clean enough. If I get 20 errands run in my day, he wants to know why I didn’t get 25 errands done. I don’t know if I can do this anymore. We have got to find a better way.”
John and Diane know how to communicate all right, though they’re not doing it in a healthy or effective way. As a matter of fact, they have gotten so good at communicating poorly that they literally push each other away instead of drawing each other close. They are disconnecting and not communicating to connect.
In order to communicate to connect, John and Diane have to create a safe and sacred space between them. They have to tune out the distractions and tune in to each other. They have to learn to touch each other gently and “invade” each others personal space to create a spousal sacred space.
Good communication is not about what we say, as much as about what we hear. The most important communication skill that I know of is listening. Attentive listening, hearing what the other is saying and meaning leads to intimate connection.
John and Diane have begun to apply these principals as they relate to one another. Along with other skills, strategies and techniques that I have taught them, they are discovering intimacy again – deep sharing that connects them and brings them closer to each other.