UNCOMMON GROUND: Communication

We're blowin the dust off of U.G. and letting it out to play again. Sorry for it's absence, but you know how that goes. So Mr. Marcus and I have been attending a marriage class at our church every Wednesday for the past couple weeks. The info was getting sooo good, that I had to come back and share some of it with you guys.

The class has been on the subject of communication. We've discussed those things that can hinder it and those things that help us do it effectively. Mr. Marcus and I have been communication for over 5 years now, and have yet to become perfectionists at the art, so these particular discussions have become treasures to us and our relationship.

The first and most important point that was brought up was that couples should pray together...CONSTANTLY. When we were apart and living in two different cities, Mr. Marcus and I made it a point to pray together over the phone every night before we went to bed. But since getting married and living together, we've kinda slacked off. Whether it was us not going to bed together at the same time or sheer forgetfulness, we had really fallen of the consistency wagon. We had always known that prayer was a powerful tool to use for any and every situation. However, holding hands and praying together with your spouse/significant other produces a since of security and a bond that can not be easily broken. It not only acknowledges God and His tremendous power, it creates an invitation for Him to come in and be the center of your relationship. Remember the three-strand cord? (Ecclesiastes 4:12) Putting God in the center of your communication is a must and the first step to a healthy and lasting relationship.

Next point: Be sure your honey is listening before you start talking. Don't try to communicate if he/she is pre-occupied with something else. If you know you're man is playing his league playoff game on the Xbox, then that may not be the best time for you to talk about your over-due credit card bill. And guys, if you know that Real Housewives of Atlanta is your girl's favorite show, don't use that as the time to want to talk about her overdue credit card bill! With subjects of this importance, be sure to set aside a time when both parties are available and can be present in the conversation.

Now this one's a biggie: Use "I" statements, not "you" statements when talking out an issue and try to remove the phrases like "ALWAYS", "NEVER", and "I'm the ONLY one...", especially during heated discussions. These things can really drive the person that's on the receiving end right over the edge and make a bad situation worse.

Ok, this next point is one that I, myself, struggle with to this day (but I'm working on it!!!) DO NOT MIND-READ: ASSUMING YOU KNOW WHAT YOUR BOO IS THINKING OR IS ABOUT TO SAY. It's very difficult to argue with Mr. Marcus. It's very rare for the point that I would argue would actually win the fight. So with being "defeated" so many times, I thought I was recognizing a pattern. Then I would try to use that pattern to predict what he would say. This lead to horrible assumptions, breakdowns in communication because I would just stop talking when I realized I "lost", and me being mad before he would even say anything! So take it from me, folks. Don't make an a$$ out of yourself. Turn those assumptions into questions and ASK them. You'll be amazed at how clearly things can begin to appear.

I kind of touched on this a few lines up, but the next point is to AVOID the silent treatment. Effective communication can only happen if both of you are actually communicating. The silent treatment is nothing more than a cop-out. It's actually pretty selfish and kinda puts off the message that you don't care. You're withholding information from your significant other that could possibly lead to enlightening them or bettering the situation. Not to mention that it can create the atmosphere for retaliation. You're trying to give him the silent treatment and he gives it to you right back. Now, nobody's talking! And what does that get you? ......................exactly.

The last couple points I can combine into one: BE NICE! Compliment your significant other on a regular basis; say "I love you" and "I appreciate you" often. Saying and hearing these words are important and saying/hearing the reasons behind them can send one's spirits soaring. Ladies, this is especially for you. Men need those words of affirmation as much as we do. Be a cheerleader for your man. Man can not live on bread alone, but if you provide a little verbal support every now and then, he may be motivated enough to go out and find the 2-piece that goes with it!!! LOL I'm kidding, but seriously...actions don't always mean more than words. The words you speak have the awesome power to either build up or tear down. Choose your words wisely, because you can't take them back (Proverbs 18:21). And if you know you're getting ready to bring up a testy subject/situation, start out with something positive. Its likely that they'll be more open to discuss the matter if you do. And finally, FORGIVE ONE ANOTHER. Things might be said that will hurt, but remember your partner is not your enemy. Don't let unforgiveness grow into something that can't be controlled, and in turn, has control over your relationship.

They didn't lie when they said, "When you know better, you do better." And now that we know and we're doing, it's only right to pass these points along to others.  They've been eye-openers to me and Mr. Marcus and they're helping us with our daily communication. It's my hope and prayer that they are now able to help someone else.