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Dear Dr. Smith
My husband and I don't have any communication. If I try to express myself, it turns into an argument. I don't know how to get over this. What do I do to change this?
Dear Lack of Communication,
Certainly, communication is still regarded as the number one problem in marital relationships. When the communication is faulty, it breaks down all other levels of the marriage. It is not true that you and your husband don't have any communication. You both communicate, there is no such thing as non-communication. If he is silent, boisterous, angry, etc., he is communicating, but in a poor way.
It is impossible to determine the etiology of the problem from just reading you question, an in depth assessment of the situation is necessary in order to establish reasons for the communication block. Therefore, I can only give a general suggestion as to what to do to help change things. It is called “The Couple in Conversation”
1. Ask for an appointment =ASAP (As soon as possible)
Without any form of sarcasm or anger, say something like this, “Bob, I would like to talk with you about something very important this evening after supper, if that is not convenient to you then I would appreciate your giving me a suggested time.”
1. Agrees to the time and place, or if that suggestion is not conducive to him, then a different time is suggested, if possible within the same day.
2. Expresses a frustration, not a list of frustrations but a specific one. Deal with issues one at a time, remember, Rome was not built in a day.
2. Receiver positively reflects on the stated frustration
The receiver should not become upset, instead should respond by expressing his understanding of the request. By mirroring back the receiver is simply saying I am listening to you and I understand you.
3. Ask for a behavioral change
At this stage the sender states clearly what behavior patterns she is requesting to be changed. Remember to stick to the issue or the behavior, not the person.
3. The Receiver validates the request
The receiver does not try to be defensive, excuse the behavior or try to rationalize it away. He just validates it. Or if further clarification is necessary, ask for it. At this stage, assurance should be given for a change in behavior, and commitments made for refraining from perpetrating the behavior.
NB: When this exercise is completed, the reverse should take place, i.e., the husband becomes the “Sender” and the wife becomes the “Receiver”.
I know that this is easier said than done, but at some point individuals have to gain some sanity in order for the marriage to work. I pray that your marriage will find the sanity it needs to communicate. Failing this approach, I suggest going for professional counseling.
God bless and I will be praying for you.
For more information about Dr. Smith's services go to www.familyfixers.org