Saturday, 03 January 2015 13:11

Conversations Full of Grace

Written by  Tim Goode
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I bring you greetings from the staff of The Samaritan Counseling Center in Montgomery.  We are a diverse group of therapists, who work with people to find relief from an array of difficulties.  A large portion of my work encounters stressful relationships plagued with anxiety and frustration from poor communication.

Communication is one of the most important components of a healthy relationship.  All marriages have some conflict, but successful marriages employ effective, healthy communication, problem-solving techniques and patterns of grace and forgiveness.  In Colossians, Paul guides us to be gracious in our speech to bring out the best in others.  This guidance applies to marriage relationships as well.

     

 

“Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out.”  (Colossians 4:6, The Message)

 

 

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

(Colossians 4:6, NIV)

 

 

Successful marriages have direct, honest and open communication.  Grace and gentleness can be a part of direct communication.  Marriage is a “team sport” and direct communication does not mean that someone has to win or lose. Couples win together, or lose together.  Direct communication promotes understanding and even the option to agree to disagree at times. 

 

Addressing an issue openly provides a safe environment for defining the perceptions and reasoning of each spouse, without creating obstacles.  Direct communication takes time to clarify and understand one another. 

 

I often encounter couples struggling with painful and stressful conflict perpetuated by the fear of openly addressing their differences.  The lack of communication appears less painful than more open communication, but it creates distance and fails to resolve problems even though it may avoid obvious conflict.  However, simply avoiding or dismissing a problem is usually interpreted as rejection or contempt.  Unresolved differences in marital relationships create frustration, anger, resentment and perpetuate damage due to a lack of communication. 

 

Indirect communication produces problems of its own making, which exacerbates problems and fails to provide solutions.  Indirect communication includes hinting, using body language or third parties to pass messages between spouses along with many other variations of indirect communication. 

 

Hints are vague and imprecise.  Communicating through a third-party is subject to the mood, distractions, biases, and understanding of the deliverer.  Third parties often inject more confusion into the flux. 

 

Notes and text messages are too brief to deal with complex problems and lack the context of tone, inflection, facial expressions and body language.  Facial expressions and body language without words are open to misinterpretation or can go unnoticed.  Couples should seek to clarify and understand their spouse before making assumptions or passing judgment on ideas. 

 

Healthy communication expresses the expectations of the communicator.  The recipient of the message is unlikely to meet the expectations of the communicator unless the message is clear, specific, accurate, and in the proper context. Indirect communication rarely possesses these qualities and is the architect of assumptions, which create further problems.

 

Sometimes one partner may need a good listener to feel understood while absorbing some emotional energy.  It is helpful for the listener to ask if their spouse wants feedback or a listener.  Generally, they will be happy to let you know.  Do not assume that your spouse wants help fixing the problem being described. 

 

Communication and conflict resolution skills are two of the many relational characteristics acquired from our families of origin.  Communicating effectively in your marriage teaches your children skills which will enhance their lives with the family and others in adulthood. 

 

Each of us comes into marriage with different communication and problem-solving styles.  Every marriage must discover and employ the negotiated “new” style that is most effective, in the context of their relationship and life situation.  Ensure that your legacy includes these empowering qualities, which will serve your children well as they work to enjoy a successful marriage in the future.

 

Define and exercise boundaries that both parties agree will aid in the resolution of the issue.  Couples must take time to work together to seek solutions rather than victory. 

 

 

Tim Goode is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.  He has been working with people and relationships in various roles since 1992.  Tim has been a therapist at The Samaritan Counseling Center, Inc. in Montgomery, since 2002.  He and Rhonda, his wife, have been married 47 years.

 

 

 

 

 

Last modified on Saturday, 03 January 2015 13:18
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