If I could list one element that makes or breaks marital communication, it's our tone. I say this based on countless sessions with couples who have tried to work through important marital issues, only to see their efforts fail due to their use of a harsh or disrespectful tone. Additional communications are destined for failure, unless there is a deliberate shift in how they engage one another.
How easy it would be today for a Christian man to lose sight of God and His Word, in a world consumed by notions of success and having more of the materialistic or natural pleasures found therein. From a secular standpoint, this is to be expected. However, these ideologies have infiltrated the Church, whereby what is often taught from the pulpit more readily aligns with these worldly notions, and strays from sound doctrine regarding the Gospel.
As spouses, we have desires and expectations around what it means to be loved by our partner. Though we will surely have various differences in this regard, we all have a common need as human beings: TO BE LOVED, CHERISHED, VALUED, AND UNDERSTOOD. Experiencing these dynamics with our spouse enables us to build a close bond and a feeling of security as a couple. They literally breathe life into our marriage, giving it the sustenance it needs to thrive and remain healthy in the long term.
Curiosity is one of the most powerful forms of communication. It is a unique mode of human engagement we can utilize to bring a needed level of comfort to our partner. Though some may view it as a simple strategy, I see it as a means of addressing the question, "How can I connect with my partner in a manner that helps them to feel loved, heart and understood?"
Today, in the field of psychology, we know that what we believe, shapes how we feel, which in turn influences how we act. In other words, our perceptions matter. This applies to the pervasive nature of common symptoms common in our society including depression, anxiety and stress. But it also applies to larger cultural issues that I want to focus on with you. The first of these relates to sexism, women and pornography in America.
Marriage is often considered inherently complex. In many ways it is, however there are certain basic components that must be present for a marital partnership to thrive. One of these elements is the need to be loved, which ranks as one of the greatest of all human needs. When we experience a loving closeness with our spouse, we are free to be ourselves, thereby drawing them into the depths of who we are as a person. On the other hand, when our marriage is filled with tension and distance, we endure an unspeakable amount of emotional pain.
Going toe to toe with your spouse in an argument is never pleasant. The verbal jabs, strikes and devastating uppercuts are painful in their own right. Yet, as all of you who've been married for any amount of time know, there are residual effects as well that carry over once the conflict has ended. These include emotional distancing, hurt feelings, resentment, frustration, and anger. It's crucial that you and your partner understand how to repair your relationship so that you can move forward and once more experience a close emotional connection. Here are strategies that count when making a repair is needed.
What is sex? If you evaluated how we handle sexuality in our American society, you would probably struggle to make a distinction between sex and soap. Although this may sound ridiculous, think about it for a moment. We construct different versions of sex, we market it, we distribute it, and we sell it for profit. We have strip clubs, massage parlors, XXX movie shops, coffee stands, phone apps, television, movies and the internet as mediums in which we sell sex. Furthermore, we bathe ourselves in it, by consuming media with seemingly endless displays of sexual innuendo and exploitation. Pornography is the quintessential example in this sense. So the question we have to ask is, "Have we relegated sex to something which holds no greater value than soap?" Yes, we have.
If you're engaged, please understand that your relationship has never been at a more important place than it is right now. Why would I make this statement? The reason is that the foundation of every lasting marriage is laid in the early stages of its development. The steps taken by a couple during their engagement to develop heightened levels of understanding regarding each member's personality, to address points of conflict, and to learn how to effectively identify and meet each other's needs over time are absolutely priceless when it comes to building a strong emotional bond.
Building a healthy relationship doesn't have to be difficult or complex. Although it's true that building a healthy marriage or dating partnership takes effort, the degree of difficulty is really up to you as a couple. By choosing to learn and apply foundational steps in your relationship, you can work "smarter" versus "harder" in those efforts to build and continue strengthening the emotional bond between you.
The violent deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile and five Dallas police officers last week, have forced all of us within the U.S. to reckon with the acute racial tensions, disparities and injustices in our nation. No longer can we assume things are better in this sense, when these atrocities indicate we are far from a state of progress. The fact is that America is still reeling from the narratives of white supremacy and the resulting effects of slavery and segregation.
Marital communication can feel incredibly complex, especially when multiple attempts at resolutions to issues seem illusive and the only thing developing is the level of tension in conversations. However, it can be helpful to think of spousal communication as being comprised of 25% information and 75% motivation or desire. I use this statement to help illustrate that much of the conflict spouses experience are often based in breakdowns in information (what they know about each other and about interpersonal communication) and motivation (their willingness to help each other feel loved, valued and understood).