During the recent Thanksgiving holiday, I was able to spend some time thinking about all the things for which I am thankful. One of the aspects of life for which I am most thankful is the relationship that my wife and I have forged over the past twenty plus years. Looking back, I am amazed at the way in which we have grown together. It is a true blessing for us to be united as we navigate life with our family.
Let me start with the extremely obvious. Communication is key in most relationships. Sure, you know that, right? So why do communication miscues cause breakdowns in a relationship so often? How about a simple example from my own life.
One morning, recently, my wife asked me what I wanted for breakfast. She regularly prepares me scrambled eggs for breakfast and, often times, includes green peppers and red onion. Because I don’t always have green peppers, she sometimes will specifically ask if I want them. Not this morning. I told her that I just wanted “plain old eggs”. In my mind, I was clearly saying scrambled eggs with nothing else. A few minutes later when I sat down at the breakfast table I found eggs with red onion. What!?!? Thankfully, this didn’t even cause a disagreement between us. It just became a moment for laughter, especially after I told I was considering writing a blog post about communication! If such simple communication can falter, there are opportunities every day for significant breakdowns.
Looking back over the years, I can identify at least five communication keys that have been helpful in maintaining a thriving relationship.
- Always be willing to talk about anything. This may sound extreme, but I have found it brings freedom. If I am holding something back from my partner, there is a part of me that is afraid of rejection. All of us are broken in some ways. When my wife shares her brokenness with me, it causes me to be empathetic and love her all the more. A loving, caring partner will never use this revealed information to hurt the other person.
- Set aside regular times to talk. This is important so that I can stay on the same page with my wife. It promotes consistency of relating to one another. Many relationship resources suggest regular dates. This, of course, can require creativity. (Believe me, with six children, I understand this!) Regular communication enables partners to stay connected amidst all the challenges of life.
- Laugh together! I have found that laughing together is a great joy. Sharing humorous moments allows my wife and me to have signposts to which we can refer. Just a mention of a humorous experience together will bring a smile or lighten a dreary mood. One moment that my wife I regularly refer to is a moment on a trip when she said something (we cannot actually remember what!) really funny that caused me to start to laugh. Unfortunately, I was driving our van and my mouth was filled with Sprite. I nearly choked because I was in mid swallow!
- Listen. To be honest, this is one area where I could improve. There are times when I am distracted and not really listening to what my wife is trying to communicate. I have learned that I have to not be solely focused on what I want. It is critical that I set aside my own agenda and do what is most beneficial for all involved.
- Say I’m sorry. At times, it becomes necessary for me to apologize because I have injured my wife with the way I have communicated. This is a humbling experience, but a must if I hope to maintain a quality relationship. Refusing to apologize or admit any wrongdoing is a recipe for disaster over the long term.
Communication is often challenging, but it is a necessary ingredient for creating strong relationships. Hopefully, the keys I have learned will also be beneficial to you.
Question: Do you have another communication key you can share with me? How about a funny story involving communicating or miscommunicating with your partner? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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