How to Improve Communication

Written by: Meaghan Highway, LMHC

“Write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow.” (Lawrence Clark Powell)

Communication. Since beginning of time, we have often struggled to communicate effectively with our fellow human beings. This can be especially obvious when issues in communication arise within the marital relationship. We each want to be heard, but more than that – we want to be understood, known, and loved for who we are. Within marriage, we can find the most vulnerable relationship – and that can always bring with it an initially frightening vulnerability.

Taking the above quote, here are three concrete steps for improving your communication within your marriage:

  1. Write to be understood. Have you ever blurted something out in the heat of the moment, only later to look back on it and moan, “I wish I hadn’t said that”? We all have, and this is unfortunately very common. But, because it is so normal, we can practice giving ourselves grace and forgiveness when we make a blunder – as well as asking for forgiveness from our partner once things have cooled off. One way to possibly avoid ‘foot-into-mouth-syndrome’ is to prepare in advance, by writing out what you would like to say. Paper is non-judgmental, and gives us the chance to flesh out how we would like to phrase things to our partner. You may want to write things out in stages: do a ‘flood’ draft, where you write out everything (the good, the bad, and the ugly), and then promptly rip this up, symbolizing that you’ve practiced this catharsis and are ready to move on. Next, try writing out what you would like to say in a way you hope will be heard, and understood. Leave this draft for at least a night – sleep on it. Then, come back and make a final draft – what you would like to say to your partner, keeping in mind that it should be generously salted with pauses so that your spouse can respond or give their own ideas.
  2. Speak to be heard. We all want to be heard – we are made with an innate desire to be known, to rest in the reality that we are accepted and cherished. These verses are shared from the Expanded Bible version, which puts in brackets what certain words literally These reflect on how deeply and innately we wish to be known. Psalm 139:1 – 4: “Lord, you have examined [investigated; searched] me and know all about me. You know [understand] my thoughts before I think them [?from afar]. You know [are familiar with] everything I do [?all my path]. Lord, even before I say a word [when no word is on my tongue], you already know it [all of it].” God is the only One who can truly know and understand us, and we can relax in the knowledge that He does know all about us and loves us beyond description. However, our spouse can’t know and hear us as God does, because of our finite human limitations. When we prepare to communicate with our spouse, perhaps we should also add: listen to understand, and pause in silence to give each other space. These two vital additions can help any conversation.
  3. Read to grow. The wonderful thing about marriage is that it has been done before countless times – and so there are resources available out there to help you improve your relationship. You don’t need to continue to flounder through your relationship alone – you can take a brave first step and seek out help. For some, that means starting with the internet and books, to give them even a hint of where to begin. For others, it might mean reaching out to friends or family to get input. And of course, professional counseling can always be a good asset in helping you, and your spouse, grow individually and as a couple. When we are open to growth, even though this can be a painful process, we are allowing ourselves to embrace what our relationship could be.

 

Above all, keep in mind that God is in your corner – He wants your marriage to grow and flourish, and will be with you every step of the way.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this blog is intended to educate, inform and entertain. This does not represent psychotherapy, therapeutic assessment, or any other form of therapeutic intervention. This should not be used as a substitute for consultation and treatment with a licensed mental health professional. If you have questions related to the material contained in this site please contact CCM or a licensed mental health professional of your choice.

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