Saturday, March 11, 2006

Kuwait: Effective Communication in Marriage - Talk

The Young Adults in Christ Fellowship

"The Family Talks – March & April 2006"

The Young Adults in Christ Fellowship group of the Catholic Holy Family Cathedral Church, Kuwait City

Talk II

Effective Communication in Marriage

The following is the summary of the second of a series of family talks organized by the Young Adults in Christ Fellowship at the Holy Family Cathedral Premises, Kuwait. This talk was given on 10th March, 2006 by Mr. Charles Machado of the God's Love Community Charismatic prayer group (Salmiya), on the topic of "Effective Communication in Marriage". Mr. Machado is also the editor of the Vicariate newsletter and is a resource person for the marriage preparation courses in Kuwait

Communicating effectively takes practice and a great deal of effort. Without communication, it is nearly impossible to resolve conflicts or grow your partnership. Whether you are in a troubled marriage, simply seeing the value of a "tune-up", or seeking marriage help, here are some useful tips for communicating effectively within a marriage.

  • Listen carefully - One of the most important aspects of verbal communication is listening. If we respond to a suggestion or comment before the speaker has had the opportunity to fully express his/her thought, we are being extremely rude.

  • Realize that no one "wins" an argument. If you leave a discussion without a possible solution to the problem, then neither party has been successful. It is much easier to resolve differences, make plans, or share disappointments, if you both are committed to the fact that you are on the same side.

  • Compromise is an essential tool to solving problems through communication. Before bringing up a problem, make sure you have thought of ways that you can help solve it by mutual compromise.

  • Try to be positive when bringing up sensitive marital problems. Instead of jumping right into a discussion, open by acknowledging that every partnership could be improved and you'd like to take some time and discuss the things that are working in your relationship and the areas that could use improvement. It helps to start by talking about positive things and then moving into the deeper discussion on problem areas.

  • Tell the truth - Somehow we think it is more love to hide our true feelings from those we don't want to hurt. However, a relationship built on hidden feelings, hopes or fears is built on shaky ground. The saying, "Say what you mean and mean what you say," is supported by many Biblical statements.

  • Be a "reflective" listener and make sure you understand what your partner has said. "What I hear you saying is..." is a great way to make sure the proper message has been received. When your husband or wife tells you something in a discussion, believe what they say. Nothing is more frustrating, when trying to discuss a subject, than to have the other person hearing what they want to hear or think you are talking about, rather than what you really said. Many times people who have been married for many years don't really know each other because they won't believe what their partner says. In many of these cases, after a few years, one of the partners just gives up and quits trying to communicate.

  • Feel free to use the "time out" card if the discussion gets too intense. If an argument gets heated and irrational, it is better to postpone the discussion to a time and place where effective communication can happen.

  • Make sure your body language, facial expressions and vocal tone are in line with your message. One study showed that 55% of the emotional meaning of what you say is expressed by your facial expression. While only 7% of the emotional meaning is verbal. Be honest, direct and focus on the real issue. If you enter a conversation insecure about making your point -- you probably won't make it.

  • If you can't come up with a definitive solution, at least try to end the conversation on a positive note like "I think it's good we've both shared our feelings and we'll continue to talk about it and try to come up with a better solution." Don't ever be rude or talk down to your partner in a discussion about your relationship. Don't dismiss an idea or thought as absurd, but instead listen to your partner's point and then react with the reasons you disagree in a respectful manner.

  • Stay on track. If you sit down to talk about a financial problem and suddenly other emotional issues are coming up, realize that you may need to focus on one area at a time in order to create solutions instead of mere bickering.

  • Recognize when you need outside help to communicate effectively. A counselor or marriage retreat may help solve what seems to be an impossible communication problem.

The 6 Sides of Intimacy

There's something about our psychological, spiritual, and physical makeup that cries out for intimacy with another. That's because God designed marriage to be the most intimate of all human relationships, in which we share life intellectually, socially, emotionally, spiritually, physically and financially. Are you and your spouse intimate in these ways?

Emotional Intimacy. Feelings are our spontaneous, emotional responses to what we encounter through the five senses. I see the fire truck racing down the road and I feel troubled. You touch my hand and I feel loved. When we share emotions, we build emotional intimacy. Unfortunately, society tends to discourage men from feeling or showing emotion. Men who didn't learn how to be emotionally intimate while growing up can learn as adults. If they do, their marriages will be stronger and healthier. The first step to emotional awareness is to pay attention to your feelings, identify them, and think of possible reasons for them. Work on noticing the differences between strong emotions such as terror and fury and the differences between more subtle emotions such as anxiety, insecurity, and irritation. Emotional intimacy can occur once people know what they are feeling, convey those feelings to each other, and express concern and understanding of their feelings to each other.

Intellectual Intimacy. This isn't about discussing highly intellectual ideas. The important thing is discussing your thoughts. They may be thoughts about food, finances, health, crime, work, politics. They reveal something of what's gone on in your mind throughout the day.

Social and Recreational Intimacy. This has to do with spending time around the events of life. Much of life involves doing. When we do things together, we not only develop a sense of teamwork, we also enhance our sense of intimacy. Recreational intimacy is enjoying activities together, like running, golfing, or reading. Things as simple as popping popcorn and watching a movie or preparing a meal together can be good ways to build recreational intimacy.

Spiritual Intimacy involves sharing and praying together in church. As you share spiritual experiences, you will become united in your attitudes and goals.

Financial or Monetary Intimacy comes with discussing and sharing your finances. If you have separate accounts, you probably lack financial intimacy in your relationship

Physical Intimacy. Because men and women are different, we often come at sexual intimacy in different ways. The husband's emphasis is often on the physical aspects—the seeing, touching, and climax are the focus of his attention. The wife, though, comes to sexual intimacy with more interest in the relationship. Sexual intimacy requires understanding and responding to these differences. To feel loved, appreciated, and treated tenderly brings her great joy. Just touching your wife’s hand or cheeks during the day and telling her that you love her can go a long way in making her feel loved.

Characteristics of Intimacy

Relationships with healthy intimacy have several factors in common, including the following:

Mutual trust builds a sense of security for both spouses. You can show it by having no desire to injure your spouse in any way. Though you might unintentionally cause hurt, you won't hurt one another on purpose.

Tenderness includes gentle expressions of caring. Through touch you can express your love to your partner. This affectionate contact "is absolutely essential in building the emotion of love".

Acceptance is unconditional approval in a relationship. No one is perfect, but acceptance means not holding weaknesses against one other. If you find yourself frequently pointing out your spouse's faults, work on focusing instead on the qualities you fell in love with.

Open communication is the ability to discuss anything with your spouse. It includes sincere expression of thoughts and feelings as well as careful listening. Signs of poor communication include feeling reluctant to tell your spouse about the events of your day or being unwilling to listen when your spouse is explaining how he or she feels.

Caring is genuine concern for your spouse's well-being. If you do things you know hurt your spouse, you cannot have healthy intimacy. You can develop a more caring heart and mind by learning to think of your spouse's feelings before your own. Always ask yourself before acting or speaking, "If I do this or say this, will I hurt my spouse?"

Apologies are the remedy for mistakes that spouses inevitably make. Recognizing mistakes, taking responsibility for them, expressing remorse for any hurt caused, and making a commitment to change the hurtful behavior are all essential to mending the relationship after a mistake. For spouses who have created a chasm of hurts that separate them, offering a sincere and humble apology is the first step in building a bridge over that chasm. Even if you believe that your partner made the mistake, you can begin the healing by finding something you did that calls for an apology.

Forgiveness is the process of letting go of anger, desire for revenge, and obsessive thinking about times your spouse has hurt you. It includes giving your spouse permission to have weaknesses, make mistakes, and change. Seeing the goodness and strengths of your spouse along with the weaknesses can open up emotional space for good will to build toward your spouse. Forgiveness does not automatically create trust or reconciliation, nor does it mean you approve of bad behavior. But it is an important early step toward rebuilding a fractured relationship.

Appropriate boundaries are the limits you place on a relationship. The limits can be created individually or as a couple. These limits include saying "no" when your spouse asks you to do something that goes against your values or is more than you can handle. Setting firm, clear boundaries for yourself and respecting the boundaries of your partner create feelings of safety and trust.

Dealing with In-laws

A New Loyalty. First, marrying our spouse means we turn our loyalties to him or her. That doesn’t mean we are not loyal to our parents, but that we place priority on our husband or wife. One obvious step to leaving our parents that shows we place priority on our husband or wife is changing homes. Our attention and effort turn toward our family’s well being and happiness and a central home together. Second, becoming one flesh, in addition to referring to a husband and wife joining sexually, suggests we should stand united with our spouse regardless of outside opinions. We are so united with our spouse it’s as if the two of us are one person. Even if other people, such as in-laws, disapprove or offer their opinions, we make our own decisions and stand by them, together.

One’s own parents. One primary difficulty married couples face is in managing conflict with the parents of their spouse. It is a very good idea to make your spouse the “middle man” for conflicts you have with his or her parents. Relationships are stronger when they have time behind them and, as they say, blood is thicker than water. Therefore, in-laws will probably react better to a request from their son or daughter. If her parents need to back off, it’s better that it comes from her. It’s important to be sensitive to your spouse’s feelings concerning your parents. If he or she feels crowded or disrespected, it’s important you take these feelings seriously and act to improve the situation. These principles should also be taken into consideration by parents and should influence the way they treat their child’s spouse. If a wife has a problem with her mother-in-law, it's the husband who needs to step in and help fix it. Likewise, if a husband doesn't see eye-to-eye with his in-laws, his wife needs to step in. The person with the primary relationship (the son or daughter, not the in-law) needs to be the messenger.

Independent Identity. You’ll know you’re in a situation where change should occur when you and your spouse don’t feel you have your own identity. One of the purposes of marriage is for a couple to establish an identity that is independent of their parents. If this doesn’t happen, a healthy marriage becomes much more of a challenge. It’s difficult to form an identity together unless each of you learns to rely on the other instead of parents. Part of what it means to have your own identity as a couple is that conflicts are resolved without the involvement of in-laws. If you and your spouse are arguing about any subject, neither has the right to involve a parent in the disagreement. If your spouse brings a parent in on an argument, you’d feel it’s “them against you.” This violates the oneness attitude that should exist in your marriage relationship. As a couple, try to establish as much independence from both families as possible. Establish a family atmosphere that avoids a contest between your two families for your time, attention and affection. Decisions on purchases, home-improvements, children’s-education, investment etc. must be first discussed with your spouse. Seek your in-law’s help only if you feel necessary.

Mutual Respect. In all things, respect your mother and father-in-law. Remember, they are the parents of someone very special – your spouse. If you are a parent of a married child, your son-in-law or daughter-in-law is very special because he or she is your child’s life partner. You need to love your parents, and have a rich and active relationship with them. Try not to criticize your spouse for his/her relationship with his/her parents. It may only lead to more clinginess or complications. Don't compare your spouse's family with your own. Don't direct anger you may feel for your spouse toward his or her family. Treat both families equally and fairly.

Also See :

No comments: