Have you ever witnessed a basketball coach frantically call a timeout, in sheer frustration, right in the middle of an intense play on defense? This is because communication is an essential component of relationships, both on and off the court. If teammates aren’t on the same page and fail to clearly communicate with one another, victory becomes unachievable. Similarly, marriages face the same reality and rely heavily on strong communication skills to survive. If a referee were watching the way you and your spouse communicate, would they blow their whistle and call a foul?
Here are a few quick tips to avoid fouling out of the communication game:
- Timing is crucial. Make sure your spouse is paying attention and not distracted; words become twisted and messages become misinterpreted when the listener is not fully engaged.
- Strive to talk and speak calmly, avoiding shouting or yelling. Say your words with love and be positive; do not use your words as a weapon against your spouse. Ephesians 4:29 tells us, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
- Listen. Sometimes, your spouse simply wants to be heard. Be quiet and listen, don’t just wait for your turn to respond. Repeat back what your spouse is saying, asking if you understand correctly, before replying. “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” James 1:19.
- Wait until you cool off from being angry to discuss an argument, if necessary. Find a quiet place to gather your thoughts, and try taking a moment to read the Bible for guidance and diffusion of your anger.
- Communicate to find solutions, not to “be right”. Remember, there are no winners or losers in a marriage; you are a team, and you win or lose together.