We all know divorce is a problem in our society. But my question to you, dear reader and single Catholic is, how does a couple get to that point? How did they go from being totally in love to hating every moment with each other?
God did not create marriage to be a prison! He created it to be a union of trust and happiness for the good of the spouses, so obviously something happened to cause that perfect storm where the “D” word was introduced. Almost every time, the underlying culprit is communication (or lack thereof).
This issue of how couples need to communicate with each other is a massive subject, one that many people have written volumes about, given seminars on and taught classes about. My goal with this article is not to compete with that, but just to focus your attention on this important aspect of relationships. If you can begin cultivating your art of communication now in your dating relationships, then when you are married, you will already have a head-start on creating harmony in your home.
Communication Is An Art Form
Make no mistake about it. It takes effort to communicate well and so few people take the time to make that effort.
I was at a kid’s birthday party recently and observed the grownups chatting. The first thing I noticed was none of what was being said was really conversation, it was all just talking. No one was asking any questions of each other or taking an interest in what the other was saying. They were just talking at each other about their kids or their careers or their recent experience at the hairdresser. I didn’t hear anyone ask something like, “So, how did that work out for you?” or, “Are you feeling better now?” or even a compliment on the new hairdo. Everyone just talked about themselves; “Me, me, me.” Try that in a serious relationship or marriage and conversation will dry up quickly. And sadly, too many people use that as an excuse to divorce. “We just didn’t have anything to talk about anymore.”
So, communication between couples has to be cultivated in the present and over time. It’s about understanding the differences in the way men and women communicate with each other. For example:
Men navigate through life with their heads; women nurture life with their hearts.
Men normally are concerned with the bigger picture, while women are concerned with the details.
Men need very little time before intimacy, but women need time to feel totally loved and totally secure.
Here are a few tips you can integrate into your relationship immediately:
When your date tells you about a problem or difficult situation, just listen. Don’t offer a solution, don’t criticize, just acknowledge them with brief statements like, “I’m sorry about that” or “That must have been difficult for you.” Anything that shows you are paying attention to what they are saying. After that, if he or she asks for help in finding a solution, go for it. That means you’ve earned their trust.
Use the word “and” instead of “but” as often as you can. For example, instead of saying, “I know you work hard at your job but when we’re out together, you can’t seem to talk about anything else,” you might try, “I love the fact that you share what’s important to you with me, and I’m interested to know more about what you and I have in common outside of work.”
When a disagreement begins, don’t be afraid of it. Relationships are boring if everyone agrees on everything 100% of the time. But you need to take a step back and listen instead of jumping to defend your position. Let your date say all that needs to be said before you comment. Then, ask questions: “Why do you feel that way?” “Why is that important to you?” etc. When your date is finished, speak your mind in a way that genuinely expresses your feelings; not in a condescending or impatient manner.
Communicating well is critical to making a relationship last. If you make the effort to understand each other and communicate your ideas, opinions, and feelings with charity and sincerity, you will be building a firm foundation for your future.
As always, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or respond below. I always enjoy receiving your comments.