Monday, August 13, 2012

Communicate your way to a great marriage

Last Saturday, Michelle and I attended, what the pastor called, "the wedding of the year."

It was indeed a beautiful wedding, very endearing and full of deep emotions as the young couple exchanged vows, pledged their love with a acronym ILYTTE (I love you to the end) and gave very personal and meaningful thanksgivings to their parents.

The pastor started his exhortation with joke. He said, "When a couple is in love, the man talks and the woman listens, after their engagement, the woman talks and the man listens, and after their wedding, both of them talk and the neighbors listen.'

In a pre-recorded video segment which was aired during the event, the couple was asked what would that one bad habit be that they would like the other to change. The bridegroom gamely said that at times, his bride talks too little while he talks too much and when that happens, they get into trouble. As such, he would like to change that habit.

The couple is wise to acknowledge that communication between them is so crucial as they begin this new adventure call marriage. My own experience confirms this.

Michelle and I have a great relationship today because we make it a point to communicate constantly. Since we got married, I made it a point to call her on the phone literally every day while we were at work. There were exceptions; when I was either in an army training exercise or traveling on a plane. Otherwise, I would call her everyday.

Since her voice brought delight to my ears while we were courting, there was no reason for me to stop calling her after we wedded. I am glad that till this day, I still enjoy just being able to say hello to her over the phone daily, sometimes simply calling to say that I missed her. Now what do you think this simple action did to our marriage?

However, we do not just say sweet nothings to one another. Apart from the daily phone conversations, we talk a lot to each other on what matters to our hearts. This is so very important because matters that matter to our hearts really matter and should be talked about!

We talk about our joy, fear,our day at work, our friends, our ministry and most of all, about our children and our future. This depth of communication allows us to build a deep level of mutual trust and intimacy. We learned this many years ago but not before having quarreled many times because we did not talk about things that matter to our hearts.

I learned another important element of communication between couples. It is not just about listening. It is about choosing to hear the right way. The simple truth is that we cannot control what our spouse says but we can control how we hear and interpret what he or she says.

Both Michelle and I are like every one else. Our words can sometimes be inappropriate. We use the wrong words, say them in the wrong tones and accompany them with the wrong body language sometimes. In our early days, my engineering-trained mind would jump into diagnosing why she said those hurtful words. And I would reason with her, educate her, and make her realize that she should not have said those words in the first place. Most of the time, I ended up more hurt and we usually ended up quarreling.

Simon Sim, a good friend of mine and a Family Life Coach and frequent speaker at family seminars said something that revolutionized my thinking and liberated me. He said, "When your spouse says something good to you, it as intentional. When he or she says something bad to you, it is unintentional."

Wow! What a simple and yet a most practical and calming instruction that is.

Simply put, I must believe that Michelle loves me so much that she has only good words for me. If ever she said something unpleasant, she did not intentionally do it.

I need not get hurt since she did not mean to say those words. I begin to see the goodness and love in her more than the occasional mistakes. It allows me to accept her as she is. What a breakthrough!

Having said all these, we are where we are today because we communicate constantly ... about things that matter to our heart. We choose to listen positively, and believe that all good words are intentional while all negative ones are unintentional.

Great lovers communicate constantly on issues that matter to their heart and believe each others' intention are always good.

Your comments and sharing are most welcome. Fuel debate, share your experience and ask questions. Click "Comment" to have you say! You are also encouraged to mark your reaction to my post....

1 comment:

Steven Chan said...

And we look forward to have the opportunity to interact and learn from you two ... newly married ones!