COMMUNICATION IN MARRIAGE: 3 OBSTACLES TO EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION

We began this series talking about Communication.

In an earlier episode we defined the term and spoke about the various carriers of communication.
Having identified them, and having resolved that Communication is the lifeblood of a successful relationship we will in this Instalment speak about the hindrances to effective communication.

There are 3 Obstacles to Effective Communication

LACK OF TRUTHFULNESS:- Marriage is built on trust.
Trust is easily one of the most important factors in successful and effective relationships; once there is a breakdown of trust there will be no openness and this will make the communication process strained and laborious.

Now there can be no trust if there is no truthfulness. Trust is the first casualty in duplicity and a lack of honesty.
So each time trust is violated a new impediment to an otherwise fruitful relationship would have been introduced. 

Most people will evaluate others and decide how much to open themselves to them using a mental frame of reference and appraisal that is mostly contingent on either their past experiences with the individual in question or with people the individual reminds them of. 
So Miss A is inclined to relate with Mr. B either on the basis of the outcome of their past interactions or of her interactions with Mr. C who happens to look like Mr. B or come from the same place as he does or sound like him, and so on.
Now if those interactions are anything but memorable a lack of trust would immediately become an inhibition to further communication.

This happens even in already established relationships.

If a spouse is economical with the truth while dealing with the other and it turns out that the other eventually discovers it would be an issue because trust would have been violated, and where trust is violated the free flow of communication will be hindered.

Most of us have either seen or been in a circumstance where trust was violated.
It could be someone who betrayed your trust or possibly someone whose trust you betrayed; it could be someone you are dating who is yet to recover from the hurts of the past relationships and so transfers the aggression to you, or it could be you who has chosen not to move ahead from the trauma of past infidelities.
Whichever way it is the point still remains that a violation of trust hinders free flowing communication.

MISMANAGING CONFLICT:-

Conflicts are inevitable in marriage.

I wish I could say this a million times over until it gets stuck in your head and subconscious.

There is no way two people of different genders with different backgrounds, and in most cases conflicting or divergent interests, will not have friction and disagreements.

The good thing about it is that if the conflict is channelled properly it will end up leading to better relationships. Bad conflicts mess everything up because they end up turning attention to what should not be given attention.

When conflicts are mismanaged they make us focus on the person rather than the problem. When we do not manage conflicts properly we try to fix the person and not the problem.
This sort of thing will inevitably lead to the next obstacle to effective communication.

DEFENSIVENESS:- The first law of nature is Self-Preservation.
Many people give into the law of self-preservation and defend/protect themselves, and they would naturally do so if they felt they were being attacked.

 Most people are prone to not accepting wrongdoing when they are attacked.

So it’s a two way street here; if you want honest and productive communication with your spouse or your intended you need to learn how not to come across as though you are on the attack.

Even if someone has done something wrong you want to put yourself in a position where you can address the issue without making it look like you are on some sort of mission to take the other person out.

And on the other hand if you are the one that seems to have done something untoward you need to swallow your pride, admit your faults, and ask for forgiveness. 
It really will not take anything out of you but will instead boost your relationship and enhance your communication with your loved one.

Okay, so let’s take a look at how we can solve these hindrances. If you read between the lines I am confident you must have gotten some points that will help in sorting the issues out, however,we can glean a little more from what we read and develop a course of action to help take out those hindrances.

HANDLING A LACK OF TRUTHFULNESS
How can we handle a lack of truthfulness in our relationships? We will speak from two dimensions here.

First of all, let’s say you are the one that has violated trust, so how do you handle it?
For starters you need to be truthful about your commitment to the relationship. If you really love the other person then you want to keep them at all costs, and if you do not then there is no need to keep putting the person in a position where you will cause him or her pain.
Kindly note that what I have just said above does not cover you if you are already married. If you are already married to that man or woman then you must keep your commitment, you cannot just get up one day and say you aren’t committed to them anymore. It should never work like that.

And if you are not yet married but decide you are committed to this person and will want to take it to a logical conclusion after you have already violated trust or you are already married and acquiesce to the fact that you must make it work the only way you will be able to do that is swallow your pride and own up to what you did in the past.

Depending on the character and mental strength of your spouse or intended you may have to be eclectic in picking the details of your past discrepancies.
You don’t want to go into unnecessary details if the other person cannot handle it.
You don’t want to tell her the most minute details of your
indiscretions with several other women if she does not have a personality that can handle it.
You don’t want to tell him how your boss held you or what position you took while he had his way with you.

You must take responsibility for what happened and go over how it happened to the extent that you and your spouse can work together to plug the holes in a bid to ensure the occurrence is not repeated.
And after you have done that you will need to make a commitment to ensuring it doesn’t happen again and then take the further step of being accountable to your spouse.

Now if the reverse is the case and the other party has violated your trust you will need to FIRST forgive them. After you have done so you must decide whether both of you are committed to the relationship. If you are and if the other party is repentant for what they did you will need to work on re-establishing that trust.
One way you will not be able to re-establish it is to keep reminding him/her what they did to you at every turn. You will only push them further away.
The way to do it is to make them feel they can trust you enough to tell what their issues are at anytime.
After forgiving you must reassure the other party and make them see you are not going be victimizing anyone.

This is imperative to get everything back on track.

HANDLING A MISMANAGEMENT OF CONFLICTS
If encounters have gone South between both of you and you see that you have allowed your disagreements become crises you can remedy the situation by dialogue.
This dialogue is to find out what stimuli provoke you both and end up making you lose the lessons you should get from the friction.
You want to be sure that it’s not just destructive friction and a toxic environment you generate when you have disagreements, and if that is the case then maybe you are just not compatible (We will be treating “Compatibility” in a later article) and you may need to part ways.
If it just is not working and try as you might you are unable to pass your message across or get the other party’s message objectively then you might just need to call it quits.
If you are already married then I can only tell you that as long as that conflict does not degenerate to any form of abuse you must work on it, and even when it does lead to abuse a separation should only be considered when it becomes physical.

HANDLING DEFENSIVENESS
The first thing to do here is take responsibility. If you are involved in deflecting blame or abdicating responsibility you will only end up causing a festering of problems.
No one will get an award for winning an argument. You might even have noticed that if you are inclined to winning arguments even when you are wrong you have won several of them and afterwards looked at yourself and asked yourself what you have gained.
You might intimidate your spouse/intended through your verbosity or eloquence, or if you are the loquacious type you run them off course by talking nineteen to the dozen, but afterwards you scratch your head and wonder why you have a sense of defeat on the inside even though you were victorious in the argument.

You need to understand the maxim “live and let live”.
You need to always remember that in a marriage relationship it is more important to be in agreement than it is to be right.

We will continue later with the last Instalment of this “Communucation” series.

If you have any questions or comments please feel free to use the comments section.
Then go read the other articles on this blog and share the site with your friends and loved ones.

Cheers and God bless

COMMUNICATION: THE MASTER TOOL FOR BUILDING HEALTHY AND STRONG RELATIONSHIPS

The heart of a marriage is its communication system”- Dwight Small
In this article we will be looking at a very essential factor in the building and establishing of fruitful, happy and successful relationships.
This cuts across all forms of inter-personal associations and as you read you can pick very important points to help you in your interactions with your co-workers, boss, clients, Bible Study group, friends, those you do leisure activities with, and practically everyone you interface with.

However I would need to let you know from the off that although you may use some of the points in virtually any type of relationship the focus of this article is exclusively the love relationship at any level through the 7 levels of friendship we had spoken about in an earlier article.

So right here we will be talking about a very crucial issue in building strong marriages- the art of communication.
There will be several things we will talk about so this very exciting and important article will be broken into several installments.

In this first installment we will be looking at the role communication plays in building a good and vibrant marriage.
First of all, I want you to note the following statement-
“Communication is to marriage what blood is to the body.”
When you think of the above statement you begin to realize just how profound it is.
We know the life of the body is in the blood. We know that the blood carries various things around the body including the oxygen and nutrients it requires to be enriched and survive, and so if the blood is let out life will cease to be.
It is very much the same thing with the role communication plays in the marriage relationship, or any other form of intimate relationship at that.
Let us take a look at this- Researchers have discovered that almost 97% of people that rate their communication with their partner as excellent are happily married, compared to only 56% who rate their communication as poor.
The implication is that effective and fluent communication is an essential in happy marriages.

Let’s start this off by defining our technical term. 

What do we mean by communication?

* Communication is the process of sharing oneself verbally and non-verbally with another person in such a way that both understand and accept what one says.
* Communication is the art of sending and receiving a message
* Communication is the ability to transmit thoughts and perceptions from one individual in such a way as to make meaning to another.

Now, let us take a look at the process of communication itself. There are basically “3 carriers of communication.”
They are the actual content, the tone of voice, and the body language.
There are percentages allotted to each of these carriers and the percentage refers to how much of the message that particular carrier constitutes. Invariably a higher percentage would imply the carrier is more weighty while a lower percentage would imply that the carrier has less import. 

It is important to note that with changes in the tone of voice or in the non-verbal component it is possible to express many different messages or meanings using the same words.
Now let’s take a more detailed look at each.

ACTUAL CONTENT:- This refers to the actual words used in the message. They are the sentences, phrases, colloquial expressions, and generally all the words used to convey the message verbally. So, in essence this refers to verbal communication or the verbal component of the message. Now as important as it is verbal communication is just 7% of the message.
This is instructive.

TONE OF VOICE:- The tone of voice refers to the fluctuation of the voice as the message is being communicated and it vocalizes the emotions, feelings and passions in a person’s heart. Usually when the actual content of the message seems to contradict the tone of voice listeners will accept the latter as the real message. 
For instance if someone knocked at your door you could say “Come in”, but that response could be interpreted in a variety of ways depending on the tone of voice used in the communication process. You could say “Come in” and the tone of voice would show you were angry so the person who knocked would anticipate a hostile reception; on the other hand you could say the exact same words in an excited fashion and the person behind the door would realize you were expectant.

Now, the tone of voice far outweighs the actual words in a message and so naturally it has a higher percentage.
The tone of voice makes up 38% of the message.

NONVERBAL/BODY LANGUAGE:- This speaks about the gestures, mannerisms, gesticulations, facial expressions, and every form of nonverbal communication and body language involved in the exchange of a message. 
Because the body language outweighs both the actual content and tone of voice in the message it naturally is what most listeners will be inclined to accept as the real message being passed across.
You might have heard this maxim before- “What you do is so loud I can’t hear what you say.”
Researchers show that when a contradiction or lack of synch between  the carriers of communication in a message ensues most people will receive the nonverbal communication as the true intent of the message.
For instance, if you were having a conversation with someone and she looked disinterested even if she answered in the affirmative after you asked her if she were paying attention you would not need a soothsayer to let you know that regardless of what she said she was most likely either not listening to what you were saying or couldn’t care less.

A person slouching on a chair while another is giving a presentation is passing a message that he would rather be somewhere else, and even a marginally observant person would be able to pick on it.  And it is most likely that nonverbal part that would be picked as the actual message.
Researchers have shown that the nonverbal aspect or the body language constitutes at least 55% of a message.

Now let’s talk a bit about how to use words rightly. As low as the percentage is in passing a message across while using words they are still very critical and so it is imperative in the communication process to learn how to use them. This is really important because if I had $1,000 for every time I have seen wrong words wreck a relationship I would probably be on the Forbes rich list by now.
You see the right words will lead to a wholesome relationship; the wrong words on the other hand will lead to the destruction of even the best relationships. 

Let me share a piece out of the richest piece of wisdom and the biggest bestseller of all time-

“A soft answer turns away wrath:
but harsh words stir up anger.
The tongue of the wise uses knowledge properly:
but the mouth of fools pours out foolishness.”
Proverbs 15:1-2

Now the verse above cautions us against the use of words in anger. Words that leave the mouth are like eggs that leave the hands; anyone that slips out and breaks is irretrievable. You can’t take words back so it is imperative that one be circumspect in their use.
There is a constructive way to use anger and if we all learnt it we would be able to preserve our relationships and make them richer and more fulfilling.

Let us now see 4 things one can do with anger.

EXPRESS IT:- This is the easiest thing to do with anger especially if you have problems restraining yourself when you get irritated or something strikes a nerve. When a person expresses anger he/she lets the emotion get the better of him/her and the consequence almost always includes toxic words, bitterness, and eventually regret. Sometimes in saying something you end up muddling it all up; the message you intend to send out gets screwed up and you just can’t retract it. It goes out and does the damage. This is why it is almost always advised that you say nothing when you are angry. 

Afterall, you do realize that silence cannot be misquoted, right?

REPRESS IT:- This is stifling anger and neither expressing it nor letting it go. When a person represses anger he/she sits on it and lets it fester and bristle. The problem is that this allows it gain steam and simmer like a volcano; the fact that this person does not express the anger as well as not letting it go means it keeps piling until he/she eventually erupts.
It is a very unhealthy thing and what it will likely do will be to cause health complications for the one that harbors these emotions and further relationship contortions between friends as well.
When you see people that are inclined to handling anger this way you notice that their attitudes and behavior tend to be occasionally confusing. This is because the outburst can be preceded by something that might seem negligible and when the person erupts they usually pour out the results of things accrued over time. 
Usually there almost is no way to know what I call their “trigger moment”- that moment they unravel, and you just might not know what final action would cause that dreaded outburst. Ironically it just could be something really minuscule that will cause the explosion. 

SUPPRESS IT:- This is attempting a forcible end to anger. A person who suppresses anger attempts to deny it as an emotion, and regardless of what happens he/she refuses to get angry. 
Well, as noble as it sounds it is unnatural; human beings were designed to feel emotions, including anger, and so a person who deliberately decides to kill and actually succeeds in killing the urge to get angry will very easily eventually begin to kill all other types of emotion. It won’t be long before feelings of happiness, joy, and even fear are suppressed to the point the individual becomes inscrutable and inexpressive.
This will end up killing the person’s ability to empathize and communicate and that will be a complete disaster.

Human beings are not robots, neither were we designed to be.

PROCESS IT:-This is the final thing one can do with anger. In processing anger what one does is pick the positives from the situation; calm down and let the emotions blow over, then with a clear mind articulate the substance of the events that transpired leading up to the anger and also isolate the stimulus that provoked it. 
Sometimes if we assess the issues that culminated in our fit of rage we might just see something constructive to pull out of it; so rather than blow tantrums we need to ask ourselves if there are positives to glean from what has happened and then cool off while we bide our time with a response.

If your spouse or your intended says something that really provokes you rather than blowing your lid you could first see if the criticism was constructive or just destructive, and if there is nothing edifying in it you can just shrug it off and wait for the right time to respond.

The key here is to do your utmost to restrain yourself from speaking while you are angry, especially when it is in a fractious situation with a loved one. You could say something that will really throw in the cat among the pigeons and if the situation isn’t managed properly you will end up with sorrow and regret.

You don’t want outbursts like- “Sandra, you have the nerve to talk to me like that even after I did you the favor of marrying you when nobody wanted anything to do with you”, or “Kelvin, I was warned to have nothing to do with you, my parents warned me to steer clear of irresponsible and lazy beasts like you but I disregarded sound advice because I thought I was in love. I didn’t realize I was making the biggest mistake of my life”

You see, as abrasive as the above statements both sound I have seen lots of people use even worse on people they claim to love in fits of uncontrolled passion.
What you want to do if you are interested in having a beautiful relationship is separate the hay from the sticks and then when you have cooled off you can then register your displeasure in a more diplomatic and measured way without having to remonstrate with your beloved.

“Hey, honey I heard what you said but you really could have put it in a different way” is one way you can say you were unhappy with the presentation after you would have cooled off.

As subtle as it is it can make a world of difference.

Here’s to building more productive relationships as we become masters at the art of communication.

We will continue this series with the next Instalment. Kindly feel free to ask questions, make comments, and make suggestions. Share this blog with all friends and family.

Cheers and God bless