Saturday, February 24, 2007

Learning How to Communicate Gently

Learning to Communicate Gently

When young couples come into marriage counseling, I often shudder when I hear them
talk to each other. The power struggle stage of their relationship causes them to speak so
harshly, so dogmatically, so authoritatively that they are unaware of the damage they do
when they talk in this tone.

I ask the husband, “is she your princess ?” Invariably, he say “yes”. I reply, “Then why do
you talk that way to her”. They never have a good answer. They seem unconscious of
how harsh they sound. I then ask the wife, “Is he your prince ?” and of course I get the
same reaction.

Why would couples take a new love and deal with it so harshly ? Because they are in the
power struggle stage of their relationship. During this stage, both parties are struggling to
dominate, struggling to be recognized, struggling for independence. This is an important
adjustment stage most young couples visit. Most marriages stay in this power struggle
stage for years and do serious damage to their communication system by speaking from
anger and domination, rather than respect and honor.

Chances are one or both of the partners witnessed their parents speak in this tone to each
other. But in business, if employers spoke with such force, a lawsuit would be forth
coming, so I find it hard to believe couples do not know better. Bad habits and
unconscious behavior catch couples off guard.

If couples are unconscious about how they sound when talking to each other, I
recommend they tape record their disagreements and then listen to how they sound and
work towards finding new ways to speak that accomplish the task without destroying the
love. Football players watch replays so they can improve their skills, and if couples are
serious about building a better marriage, they could also use a replay system to improve
their communication.

No one would dream of taking a brand new baby and handling it harshly. The same
should be true for a new love. It is new, impressionable, and needs tenderness, care and
gentleness. Harsh communication from anger destroys love and builds resentment.
Caring communication needs to be present if you want your new love to grow.

1 comment:

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