Throughout the years, my wife and I have sat down with people in relationships to give them guidance and counsel. Sometimes with one party, other times with both individuals. In the vast majority of those conversations, love was not the problem, communication was. We have found throughout the years that couples will often get into relationship pitfalls, not because love is inexistent, but because love is badly communicated.
If your spouse seems insecure about your love for her, if your mate is constantly trying to find reassurance of your love and care for him, it is time to reevaluate how you communicate.
Today I am giving you 3 simple questions to help you reevaluate how you communicate. Although I’m writing these with a focus on marriage, these principles apply to other forms of communication.
Question 1: What am I communicating?
Everything we do communicates something; we are constantly communicating.
You may be saying one thing, but communicating something else; you may think you are communicating love, but what you are in fact communicating is disregard. You may think you are communicating commitment, but you are actually communicating your insecurity about the relationship. You may think calling 5 times in 5 hours to check up on your mate communicates “I love you and I’m thinking of you.” But what you are communicating is “I’m insecure about your commitment and love for me.”
Consider your what, assess your words and actions, and make sure your message is consistent with what you hope to communicate.
Question 2: How am I communicating?
If what you communicate is the content, how you communicate is the method. It is your responsibility to be positive and constructive. You can communicate in a way that builds, or communicate in a way that tears down. It takes intentionality to match the message to the method. You may be full of love, but if your posture, tone, and approach show indifference, stress, and disregard, your mate will never be able to see past it.
Here are a couple of things to keep in mind when considering how you communicate:
- You can’t mindlessly speak your mind, and expect your mate to receive a mindful, thoughtful, and considerate message. Make sure your words and actions are measured for the desired outcome.
- One of the principal reasons for misunderstanding is lack of clarity. If you are trying to address an issue, confront a situation, or affirm your love for your mate, it is your responsibility to make sure you are understood. If your message is not clear, it is unfair (and by unfair I mean wrong) to fault your mate for not understanding you. Sounds obvious when you read it, but so many individuals in committed relationships overlook their responsibility to make sure they are understood – it is the communicator’s responsibility to make sure the message is clear and understandable. Sure, your mate must be willing and open to receive your message, but if you establish a track record of clarity and positive communication, you will see much of the misunderstandings, bickerings, and lack of connection dissipate.
Question 3: Why am I communicating?
If what is content, and how is method, the why is the motivation of your communication. The importance of keeping your motivations in check can never be overstated. The complex part of a couple’s relationship is not the relationship itself, but each individual. Two individuals, each with a set of temptations, weaknesses, pitfalls, and life-perspectives of their own, attempting to function in harmony, are required to remain committed to the right kind of motivation.
In couples communication, motivation trumps everything.
When you ask yourself “why am I communicating this?” follow-up with questions like:
Am I trying to persuade my partner my way?
Am I using guilt to manipulate?
Am I inciting pity to get what I want?
When your why comes to light, it might not be a pretty sight. You might be face-to-face with a side of you you don’t always want to admit is there. Don’t be prideful. Don’t give in to denial. Don’t justify it. Instead, address it. Keep your motivations in check. Especially those parts of you that can damage, and even kill, a relationship that could be life-long, harmonious, and positive.
If you and your mate ask yourselves these three questions; if your content, method, and motivations remain consistent to your love and commitment for each other, you will be able to dramatically improve your communication.
Our prayer and desire is that your relationships may be healthy and whole, that your children may feel secure, and that your home may be full of harmony, love, and peace.
We love you,