You are here: HomeWallOpinionsArticles2016 05 14Article 438649

Opinions of Saturday, 14 May 2016

Columnist: Author: Rev. Dr. Samuel Kisseadoo

Communication in our marriages, courtships, and relationships Part 2

Suggested solutions to solve some of our communication problems

We need to understand that communication is not just getting things said. True communication is getting things heard. You must therefore aim at communicating in such a way that the particular person or people you are conveying your message to, will be able to pay attention to you, listen carefully, know, understand, and do or apply exactly what you are putting forth.

We need to also understand that all humans are spiritual beings with a soul (comprising three parts: the mind or intellect, the will, and our emotions).

Therefore be particularly concerned about the kind (or present state) of the spirit with which the person is receiving what you are saying or trying to convey to him or her with your words (spoken or written), particular sound, body language, attitude, or behavior ---- and how the person will interpret the particular language you are using.

Sometimes what you communicate by your action, can speak very loud --- even louder than your words. If, for example, you I tell you something or give an excuse or explanation to you for an issue, and you clear your throat loudly (especially when you do so more than once), it normally implies that you don’t believe me, or you think that I am hiding something.

If you show a solemn face without any trace of a smile, and look down in a pensive mood, or glance at me with a stern face after I have spoken to you, and say nothing as a response to what I tell you or trying to explain to you, I will find it hard to think that you believed me; or will wonder if you still accept me despite my mistake or exhibition of weakness in that particular instance. Communication can start breaking down after that incident.

Some Principles We can Work With Are:

1) Know and understand the real value and power of communication as the life-blood in all of your relationships. Communication is what began your relationship, courtship, marriage, family life, or friendship, and must sustain it to a successful end.

2) Make a firm decision to practice and become a good and effective communicator. Conversation provides the best form of interaction between two people, and therefore becomes the foundation for real fellowship among humans. Learn the art of being a good and enjoyable conversationalist.

Do your best to communicate:

a) Honestly --- tell the whole truth. Let your yes be yes, and your no be no. If you are offended or happy, sincerely say so.

b) Intelligently or Wisely --- be a thinking talker, thinking writer, and thinking actor. Don’t speak or act foolishly and convey a message of being immature, unwise, careless, or proud. Let your brains carefully go with your fingers as you text, write, or type. Watch where your hands and fingers go on a person’s body to communicate unspoken expressions and intentions when touching or hugging someone. Avoid nagging and redundancy. Know what to say or what you shouldn’t say in the presence of your children or to your child, to your parent or older family member, when a visitor or a third person is around, in the company of others, at table, when proposing love, during courtship, before or after love-making, in the presence of an in-law, when negotiating, in a court of law, during job interviews, on radio or television, during a meeting, in church or at fellowship, before a class at school, to a boss or teacher, to your pastor or counselor, to a close friend, to a man or woman, on the phone, on social media, in the newspaper etc.

c) Confidently --- be sure of what you are saying, and let your tone and words show.

d) Reasonably --- don’t make unreasonable and impossible or opportunistic demands or statements.

e) Freely --- be unafraid to say it all. Break down barriers of fear you have created.

f) Completely --- if not free, it will NEVER be complete. For example, you leave the house or office and you tell me: “I am coming” --- why can’t you tell me where exactly you are going? Try to also deal with whatever you have said or done to create fear or lack of trust in your mate or friend.

g) Courteously --- be polished and enlightened in your speech.

h) Purely --- avoid all vulgar, immoral, disgusting, insulting, or profane language.

i) Respectfully --- be noble enough to show me respect as you speak, and give me the honor and dignity I deserve.

j) Encouragingly --- be sensitive to my feelings and needs. Speak with an aim to encourage me to go on and not give up. Let your words edify me (build me up).

k) Sweetly --- be gracious, merciful, kind, sweet, and nice with what you say, for me to feel good in my mind and heart, as something coming from someone who loves and cares for me, and has my welfare and interest at heart.

l) Timely --- watch the mood and occasion, and train yourself to speak at the right time to me, in order to get my maximum attention, and obtain maximum effectiveness for the results you wish to see from your words.

m) With acceptable and required tone --- your tone can enhance or destroy the importance or power and urgency of your words. Be very conscious of the tone in terms of the person you are talking to. Take into careful consideration the age, gender, your relationship with the person, position of responsibility or authority, physical state of the person, his or her needs, sensitivity of the person etc.).

3) Be a good listener. One key to becoming a good communicator is to develop the discipline of being a good listener, in order to make people listen to you. Taking time to listen to everything that people have to say to you is the only way to make them listen patiently and lovingly to you as well. If you do not make people know and feel that you listen to them, and expect them to listen to you, I can assure you that they will not. Even if they behave like they are listening to you, it would be a pretense to avoid and ignore you, or would do so out of fear and intimidation. Good listening is one of the major keys to avoiding unnecessary argument. Every human being loves the company of a good listener. The love grows when the person pays attention, establishes eye contact, and gives you your desired response. You feel accepted and loved by the person, and enjoy talking more to the one, and going a step further to reveal the deep contents of your heart to his or her listening and loving ears.

4) Take time to provide good and honest answers to good questions. Beware of retaliatory, sarcastic, dishonest, cheeky, rude, silly, insulting, deceptive, concealing, incomplete, and careless answers. One of the greatest temptations any man or woman faces in communication is the tendency to give answers before getting all the information you really need to synthesize your expected answer. Often our minds are made up (prejudiced) on certain issues, and once the person begins his or her question or comment, we dash off with our mechanical answer based on preconception. Sometimes when things annoy, irritate, or make us angry, we can even plan to give specific answers in our hearts and minds to give them to the person or anyone who will “dare to ask me anything concerning this particular matter”. We even make such plans and broadcast it to people, often with a boastful and aggressive spirit that is “ready to use this particular answer to fight anyone who will ‘make the mistake of asking me this particular question’”.

Common examples are cases when a person is accused of immorality or financial dishonesty, cases that deal with divorce and broken relationships, individuals whose plans for specific activities are questioned, and people whose sexual, religious, and traditional orientations are challenged. The tendency is to strategize a strong communication base of self-defensive answers.

Some questions are penetrating, and we normally hate them because they challenge us to reason honestly and objectively, and tend to compel us to get our hidden nature or agenda exposed. An attentive and listening ear is the key to giving right answers and asking the right questions in turn. If you want people to listen to you when you speak, give you right answers, and pay attention to your needs, then you must learn to listen to others and make time to pay attention to their needs as well. If you make it your principle to listen first, you will become an effective communicator, receive more attention, and make more friends. You should not live a life that only waits for people to satisfy you and give you desired responses first before you return their good deeds with good responses. Although it is hard to practice, you should try to listen to the person who refuses to listen carefully to you, in order to gradually teach him or her how to listen not just to you, but listen to people I general.

I wish to suggest that you must interpret questions wisely before answering them. Doing so will eliminate partial, tedious, and too elaborate answers. It will also prevent zero answers when people are dying to get good answers from us. Find out the type of answer needed for the specific question — is it a why, when, who, where, or how question? If, for example, you focus on telling me who is involved and when something is going to be done, and I am more interested in knowing how it is going to be done because I for-see problems with any attempts to do it, then you would not be helping me to gain understanding, agree, and cooperate with you, because your focus will be different from mine.

Learn when to give no answers when the circumstance calls for silence. Certain questions should be left to stand alone, in order to become the answers themselves. Learning to interpret questions properly, and relating it to the specific circumstance and the person asking you the question, will enable you to discern not to answer a particular question. Rhetorical questions are not supposed to be answered, but are statements in themselves, usually for emphasis. It is often safer and better for both the inquirer and the responder to avoid responses if an answer to a particular question will create infuriation, tension, or confusion. This particularly applies to foolish, deceptive, and provocative questions. In marriages and courtships, spouses and fiancees would often save each other the agony of arguments, tension, anger, and frustration by keeping quiet when answers to certain inappropriate questions would not edify (build up) both of them.

5) Avoid giving flimsy excuses to cover up your communication deficiencies or flaws. In our homes, marriages, and during the times of courtship, men and women give a thousand excuses and develop arguments from complaints, and try to explain away why they are what they are, and do what they do. For example, why they:

Are short tempered, mess up the finances, carry foul body odors around, have dirty kitchen and bathrooms, sleep in bedrooms that look like war zones, become addicted to drugs and drinks, cannot forgive offences, never tell the truth, are unloving and unromantic, indulge in fornication and adultery, enjoy pornography and other sex perversions, always come home late, are never punctual to appointments, lack simple courtesy and basic hygiene, do not get simple grammar right, never reply to letters, never return phone calls, never finish any job they start, are slow and lazy, never complete their homework, get poor exam grades, cannot read their Bibles and pray daily, slack in church attendance, cannot support God’ s work with their money, become more married to their work and ministry than to their spouses, spend all their time and energy outside the home and neglect their homes and families, and are still not committed Christians, or have not accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

6) Learn how to properly present bad news to your mate. Unexpected bad news that is callously or carelessly communicated could produce negative repercussions on the love, compassion, and care that you have for your mate. Sometimes this is promoted by situations where you think you have cautioned or tried to discourage your mate but he or she would not listen to you. So you report the news of the failure of the exam, refusal to process or accept the application, illness of a family member or dear friend, loss of a job, denial of a visa or loan etc. in a way that suggests or could actually speak loudly: “Well, you see; I told you so.” The tormenting question in the mind of your mate will be: “Really? If you sincerely love me, and have compassionate and kind feelings for my welfare, you will not break such news to me this way, speak to me at the wrong time, and make it sound like you are rejoicing over my tragedy, or hide such important information from me when I needed it most.”

7) Speak the truth in love. Learn to avoid abrasive words and ways of scolding, complaining, and criticizing your partner in the courtship or marriage. Much harm could be done, especially in cases of carelessly-chosen spoken and written words of criticism, disapproval, condemnation, and rejection that generate shame, disgrace, and hopelessness, which have done incalculable damage to the lives of people. They are among the most damaging factors that have broken up families and friendships and driven people to mental institutions and suicide in human relationships. Prepare your mind for such eventualities.

8) Speak to edify (build up). Speak the right words, and do so in ways that will build trust, growth, maturity, and strong bond in the relationship. For the friendship, relationship, courtship or marriage to grow and move along productively, we must frequently engage in communication that aims at maturity, deepening love, resolving differences, better understanding, obedience, godliness, better communication, improvement in our lives, and fruitfulness.

9) Deal with communication difficulties and trials. Learn how to deal with words or actions that produce disappointment, heartache, pain, and suffering. Whenever you experience any form of suffering because of unexpected words from anyone, just make sure that you are suffering for doing what is right and not because you are wrong. Even if you are wrong and are being chastised with hard, unpleasant words, confess to God where you are wrong, sincerely repent, lay the whole matter before God, tell Him how you feel and what you desire for Him to do for you, and hope in His unfailing promises.

10) Avoid prejudice. When your mind is prejudiced against the person or issue being discussed, it is possible to read deeply into every sentence and word, and obtain all forms of interpretations. When you ponder or read over what the person said or wrote to you and realize that you are disturbed by the words, find out if your inner disturbance is due to your impressions about the person or the actual words from the individual.

If you are unhappy with a person or do not desire the person’s friendship, look down on the one, or regard him or her as having no relationship with you, even his or her genuine words could displease or have no meaning to you. Even praises, admiration and encouragement from such a person can surprise you as unexpected, and you may find it difficult to believe and accept them. It becomes worse when they are warnings or advice for you to change or alter something you plan to do or are already moving ahead with. It pays to be objective and accept the true love and affirmations of apparent strangers or people who are part of your special group.

11) Be brief with the truth. Speak at length only when necessary. Redundancy can kill the essence of your speech. So far as verbal communication is concerned, it is often quite difficult to fully analyze all that you hear from a lengthy speech, because it is impossible to remember all the sentences, except those ones that delighted you, echoed your ideas, promoted you, affirmed your convictions, gave you fresh insight, surprised you, vindicated you, gave you rebukes, startled you, irritated you, angered you, or hurt your pride and feelings.

It may be necessary to be ready with a pen and paper and write down important points that you recognize in someone’s communication with you, if it is lengthy but contains facts that are vital to you. You may also record the information on tape, if you have the permission to do so, not for future reprisals, but to rather take time to digest the contents in the future.

12) Provide information that builds the base for future success. No matter who initiated for the two of you to finally come together, both of you must aim at communication that would provide a solid base for the future relationship, since communication will constitute the blood of any relationship. Choose your proposal words carefully, wisely, and lovingly.

Responses must be given the same way. Your words should be serious, sweet, spicy, and honest, coming from a sincere heart. Both parties must show signs of seriousness and commitment right from the beginning, in accordance with your consistent communication of affirmation and truth.

The same commitment and vibrant communication must be maintained and even upgraded throughout the courtship and marriage until death separates the two of you.