Good communication is the basis for all healthy relationships and it is especially foundational for a strong, thriving marriage. There are different types of communication. Not every conversation in your marriage is going to set your heart ablaze or be filled with depth and insight. It doesn't take much time into the marriage to recognize that truth. :) Sometimes our conversations are mundane. But even in the common, simple conversations, life is being transferred to one another. Each of these kinds of communication are essential in a marriage and family. If all your conversations were romantic, honeymoon-kind-of-talk, real life would fall to pieces! There is a place for those deep conversations, but they don't just happen in the day to day unless you are intentional. Most of the daily conversations are more centered around schedules, appointments, finances, kids activities, etc.
Here are four types of communication:
1) Informal conversations. These establish a simple connection in couples without deep emotional intimacy. These kind of conversations are considered small talk: What does your day look like today? How was your day? How are you feeling today? Etc. These conversations give you some information, but they don't involve too much time and thought. To add a little more depth to these types of conversations, you can add something like this: What was the best thing that happened for you today? What was the worst thing that happened? How could I pray for you today?
2) Administrative conversations.These help a family operate smoothly. These conversations are loaded with action points: talking about daily schedules, to-do lists, appointments, social functions, financial decisions, kids' activities, church activities, events to attend, etc. Something Greg and I established many years ago was having a Sunday night meeting looking over the week's calendar. We literally get the calendar out (old school I know) and talk through what is happening during the week, so it is on the calendar. It helps with over commitment and miscommunication about schedules. When our kids were old enough, they joined the Sunday night meeting to share with us what was on their to-do lists for school, sports, youth group and various other activities.
3) Challenge conversations deal with issues. Often these are delicate conversations to resolve conflict. These conversations are essential to talk through disagreements, disappointments and hurts. Something I have practiced when Greg and I have to resolve conflict is picturing Greg and I as a team. We are in matching team t-shirts, standing together on the same side and on the other side is the issue. We as a team are tackling the issue. That is one of my "hacks" for conflict resolution.
If these kinds of conversations create tension, anger or frustration, there are many resources that can help you with the tough stuff. A few tips for us women are: 1) Avoid "mind-reading". I cannot tell you how many times Greg has said to me, "You had an agruement with me and I wasn't even in the room". :) I have to remind myself that I can't read his mind and to not assume I know what he was thinking about whatever upset me. 2) Be specific about what the issue is. You need to be able to clarify it to bring it to the surface. 3) Use active listening in communicating, "I hear you saying..." or "I feel..." Be careful not to blame your husband for making you feel a certain way. Each one of us needs to take responsibility for our feelings.
4) Life-giving conversations are proactive conversations about meaningful things. These are the moments of connecting on those things that really matter, sharing hopes and dreams, your inner life with one another. This type of communicating grows couples to be fully known with one another. This is my favorite kind of conversation! But it does take time. When we had young children, I had a little book of conversation starters on the nightstand. If we weren't completely exhausted when we went to bed, one of us would read a question from the book. And we would each take a turn answering. It was fun and a way to discover more about one another, building intimacy. The goal is to spend 10 minutes a day of meaningful conversations. Here a few starters to try:
*If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one ability or quality, what would it be?
*What would constitute a "perfect day" for you?
*Is there something that you've dreamed of doing for a long time? What holds you back from doing it?
*How can I grow in my communication with you? What things are important for me to know? *What are you looking forward to in the next 5 and 10 years?
*When do you feel most loved by me?
*What dreams do you have for us as a couple?
*If you could go anywhere with me, where would you take me?