Communication Problems

We discussed truth in our marriage class at church yesterday. It is funny to see how similar couples are in their communication struggles, and we shared many laughs about it. That seems to be the greatest strength in our class, realizing that we are not alone. Everyone goes through the same types of problems.

For example, you can almost count on the fact that one of the persons in a marriage will want to talk about everything immediately, while the other usually has to think about it first. I am the one that does not think clearly on my feet; I need to think about things before I vocalize my thoughts. Rick, on the other hand, wants to solve things, immediately. I get knots in my stomach whenever he starts a sentence with, “We need to figure out…”

Rick has been trained to react and respond at a moment’s notice. He flew fighter jets where he had to make life-or-death decisions in seconds. He also grew up in a military family with the same method of decision-making.

I have to look at all the options and weigh my feelings. I grew up in a home where we did not discuss things and I had no input in decision-making. My father’s word was the bible in our house. I do not always know how to respond when my opinion is needed, unless it is something I feel very strongly about, like marriage, or the Bible, or my family. When it comes to communicating with my husband, I still have moments of not responding well because I am not prepared.

That takes me to another area that causes problems for couples. Many wives complain that when they are trying to help their husband with a project (laying a floor, cleaning the garage, changing the oil in the car), the husband becomes bossy and often speaks in a non-edifying manner.

We women easily take offense in these particular moments, but we have to realize that we are walking on our husbands’ territory. That is how many men communicate with each other, especially if you are not doing it the correct way (correct to their standards).

Let’s say that your husband is helping you in the kitchen(your territory). The tables often become turned here (unless he is the chef in the house and you organize the garage). We easily become bossy when our husbands don’t perform to our standards. The difference here though, is that most men seem to bark a little louder than women, and women are more sensitive to any barking.

It is important to realize these differences between each other so you can adjust your methods of communication. If you need a “time-out” from a conversation or project you’re working on with your spouse, take it! You may need to discuss ahead of time that “time-out” is an option you might choose.

I was surprised to hear how offended my husband felt the first time I called a “time-out”. He thought I was using it to aggravate him, when in reality, I was using it to control my emotions and save him from unkind words I might carelessly speak.

The key is to think first of how your spouse might react to your words. Learn to deliver them in a way that will only build up your spouse, not tear them down.

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