At a recent marriage seminar Richard and I asked each person to write down the biggest problem in their relationship.
The top two issues were communication and sex. In that order. And more men said communication was a problem than women. Interesting…
If you’ve ever watched a soapie (I used to J) you’ll know that one of the biggest problems in the onscreen relationships is lack of communication.
Half the drama could be eliminated if the people would either just tell each other what’s going on in their heads or stop assuming they know what the other person is thinking!
(But then I suppose the story wouldn’t drag out for so long, right?)
Whether you are just entering a relationship, about to get married, are newly married or have a bunch of married years behind you, communication is essential.
Because without satisfying, effective communication, relationships break down.
Studies show that improving your communication increases the quality of your relationship more than anything else you do.
Dr’s Les and Leslie Parrott share 3 levels of communication in their book Love Talk.[i]
Level one: The grunt level. This is the shallowest level of communication and consists of saying required things like, “How are you doing?” that is met with the predictable “Fine.” This level is a great comfort level but won’t be good if that’s all your communication ever consists of.
Level two. The journalist level. This is talking about facts and opinions. Politics, movies, people, church, sports. While this level of communication has its place it lacks intimacy and real connectedness. Reporting and discussing won’t always bring you closer together.
Level three. The feelings level. A couples reaches this level when each person feels safe enough to share areas of weakness or feelings that may put him or her in a bad light. It means you let your guard down. You reveal your heart and speak your mind, yet know that you will be understood and accepted.
The exchange of information will not keep a love relationship alive. Nor will a bunch of communication techniques.
The secret to good communication is the desire to understand each other. You must be genuine.
Genuineness is expressed in your tone and non-verbal behaviour, your eyes and posture.
It’s something you are, not something you do.
It comes from the heart.
Good communication consists of two things: expressing thoughts verbally and listening.
But you want to do more than just talk and listen. You want to do them well.
There is a difference between expressing thoughts and expressing them well. This matters a lot when you are tackling a sticky issue. I’m not saying you have to express yourself perfectly, but learning to do it better will go a long way when working through conflict. (For more on conflict resolution read what not to do when you’re in a fight)
Here are some tips:
Listening is as important as talking when it comes to good communication.
Here are some tips to listening well:
There is only one rule for being a good talker – learn to listen. [ii]
Don’t know where to start on improving your communication?
Here are three simple things you can do to begin improving your communication:
Communication is a skill you can learn – like riding a bicycle. If you’re willing to work at it you will improve.
And so will your relationship.
Because communication is the lifeblood of relationship.
Are you satisfied with your communication? Where do you need to improve? Leave a comment below.
[i] Love Talk, 42, Drs Les & Leslie Parrott
[ii] Christopher Morley