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We were blissfully in love and thrilled to be on our honeymoon. Then came day five—we had our first argument. That put us on a slippery slope moving swiftly toward desperation. Within the first nine months of our marriage, Gina and I were both convinced that we not only married the wrong person, but also were condemned to a loveless marriage.
One very tangible side effect of our difficulties was poor communication. I would ask, “What’s for dinner?” She would hear, “I can’t believe you haven’t prepared dinner again tonight!”
She would say, “What time are you coming home?” I would hear, “You better get here and help me because you’re never here.”
We could not express anything we wanted to. We resorted to hurting each other with our words. We did not build each other up … we tore each other down and caused deep, emotional pain. Quite honestly, we had endured so much hurt that we could not see any hope for ever communicating well. Our despair was overwhelming.
In counseling we began learning about intentional communication. I remember thinking, “That is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. This stuff is so simple … I can’t believe I’m paying this guy for this.”
But, once I got off of my high horse, I realized something very simple yet profound: If communication was really that simple, everyone would be doing it and all of our communication would glorify God and reflect His image (1 Peter 4:11; Ephesians 4:29). Glorifying God did not describe my communication, and it may not describe yours either. In fact, many of us struggle to communicate well even with those we love the most: our siblings, our parents, our children, our spouse.
The road I took to learn about communication was a tough one. Here are some of the tools that helped transform my marriage and change my heart.
1. The Principle of First Response: The course of a conflict is not determined by the person who initiates, but by the person who responds.
2. The Principle of Physical Touch: It is difficult to sin against someone while you are tenderly touching him or her.
3. The Principle of Proper Timing: The success of a conversation can be maximized if the timing of the conversation is carefully chosen.
4. The Principle of Mirroring: Understanding can be enhanced if we measure it often throughout a conversation.
5. The Principle of Prayer: Success in communication is more likely when we invite God to be an active participant and guide.
To get details about how to apply these principles, Click here