Over our 23 year marriage, I’ve notice several things about my wife that needed to change. What better way to make her aware of the changes she needed to make than to tell her? Well, it turns out there is a much better way. In fact, it’s taken me 23 years to figure out these four reasons our marriage communication fails.
Without going into too much detail, let’s just say my wife has a few quirks that drive me crazy. To be fair, her wonderful qualities far outweigh her quirks. However, am I to just let those few quirks continue to drive me crazy? Shouldn’t I say something?
No, wait. Stop right there. I’ve fallen into this trap before. I’ve made this mistake so many times I’ve lost count. And I would advise you to avoid going there as well. It is highly likely you’ve mistaken the purpose of communication in marriage and it won’t end well for you.
Marriage communication begins to break down when one or both spouses loss sight of the real purpose of communication. There are four major reasons that cause us to loss sight of that purpose. Truly examine your recent arguments and I bet you can find one or more of these misguided attitudes toward marriage communication.
Change your spouse
As I eluded to earlier, I’ve made the mistake of trying to change my wife through communication several times. “Let’s just talk about the changes you need to make,” I’d offer. What a moron! I don’t recall a conversation that went well after such a statement.
It has taken me 23 years, but I know now the purpose of marriage communication is not to change your spouse.
Prove you are right
I have a bit of a running joke with my family. When there is debate about a topic and I happen to be correct (which doesn’t happen often, but it does happen), I ask the rest of my family to recite something along the lines of “you are right dad and we are wrong.” They rarely oblige and never with a sincere attitude.
That same desire of wanting to prove I’m right can also leak into serious conversations. Many heated arguments later, I now know the purpose of marriage communication is not to prove your right.
Win an argument
The argument probably starts with me wanting to prove I’m right, but it continues with my desire to win the argument. Let me be clear, there is no winner in a marriage argument. You may get your point across or get the last word in, but know that no one wins a marriage argument.
After experiencing countless false victories, I’ve come to realize the purpose of marriage communication is not to win an argument.
Get your way
It starts innocently enough. I want my wife to squeeze the toothpaste tube from the bottom rather than the middle. She doesn’t feel the same level of significance to her misguided use of the toothpaste tube. In an effort to get my way, I develop all sorts of rationale as to how she is killing our budget and our planet with her irresponsible use of such a precious resource. It’s toothpaste! Really?
Thousands of toothpaste tubes later, I’ve learned to efficiently fix a malformed tube and the purpose of marriage communication is not to get my way.
So what is the real purpose of communication in marriage?
Well, it’s simple. And it connects with the definition of communication. Look it up. You’ll find definitions that express an intention or act of conveying a message or imparting thoughts, opinion, or ideas. Therefore, the purpose of communication in marriage is much the same. The purpose of marriage communication is to express your thoughts, opinions, ideas, or feelings and simply be heard.
That’s right, proper communication in marriage requires that we express ourselves, ensure we’ve been heard, then move on.
To conclude, let’s consider an example that happens a lot in my marriage.
Jennifer stays extremely busy with all the logistics of our family. She handles them wonderfully, but it often leaves her with very little time to give me her undivided attention. Let’s say we need to discuss our family finances, but we struggle to do so because the kids are constantly interrupting. Then text messages are streaming in to her phone as she coordinates school drop off and pick up with three other moms.
My younger and dumber self would launch into an explanation that Jennifer needs to learn better time management skills. She needs to better organize her calendar and plan her day to ensure the most important things (that’s me of course) get her attention.
The older and wiser me will simply express something like, “I know it’s not how you really feel, but when you don’t give your undivided attention to our budget discussion, it makes me feel like you don’t care about our finances.” Do you see that period after the word finances? That’s right, my communication should stop there. I’ve expressed my feelings, I’ve been heard, and now it’s time to move on.
Do you want to better communicate with your family through text messages? I’ve compiled my favorite text messages that I use with my wife and children. If your interested in this text message document, simply fill out the form below.