Living a Blissful Marriage: 24 Steps to Happiness Excerpt

THE COMMUNICATION CORNER

I. The art of communication leads to the art of living and loving well

Why do people miscommunicate then end up cross with each other? The secret is to listen. If we listen attentively, we can reply in kind. A two-way, flowing communication between two human beings is the spark that enhances a marriage or a relationship. This communication flow is like a stream that smooths and polishes the stones on its way and reflects the light of the sun. Without a two-way communication between adults, we would no know who we are with others, but would live as an island onto ourselves. Communication is not only exchanging words and ideas, it is also revealing our innermost thoughts, the essence of who we are. In revealing our souls there is also the fear of criticism, or being reprimanded, diminished or wounded. That is why many of us remain aloof, uncommunicative or plain deaf. Instead, if we could communicate our thoughts, requests and needs in a safe and encouraging atmosphere, we would release those long-repressed thoughts and desires. How can we express ourselves without having this sword of Damocles above our heads?

The various workshops on the communicative skills of listening emphasize the major points of successful dialogues: choice words, non-judgmental listening, respectful listening, accepting that there are many viewpoints beside your own, and a non-bullying attitude. In addition, there are specific techniques that focus on improving communication by avoiding repetitive sentences, too much or too little information given, and stonewalling. The tools most needed when two partners are locked in conflictual issues are merging, empathic listening, verbalizing feelings, introspection and examining irrational beliefs.

II. Communicating With a Purpose

What is the purpose of communicating in relationships?

When we communicate with our spouses or loved ones, we share ideas, requests, express needs or just being simply a sounding board. A sure way to the divorce court is to stand your ground stubbornly without giving an inch or listening to your spouse. When you stand your ground to be listened to, express your feeling but then listen to the response without interruption. If you receive information contrary to your wishes, you can then re-express your point of view with a more explicit request. Again, you need to view communication as an exchange of views and information. It is not a contest of wills on who can win in the end. Each partner puts forward their viewpoint while taking into consideration the other’s view. This flowing exchange of two-way information leads to growth and love.

III. Irrational Beliefs

Before we go on with examples of communication let us examine irrational beliefs. The reason I’m examining first this roadblock to communication is because it underlies all fears to communicating with purpose.

What are irrational beliefs?

Many times our way of thinking is what causes hurt feeling, and that can become a source of conflicts. There are many irrational beliefs that control our thinking and cause us to act in a certain way out of fear. Below are some of the fears caused by our irrational beliefs:

Fear of rejection: I must be loved all the time.

Fear of failure: I can’t fail; I must be perfect.

Fear of unfairness: Everybody has to be fair to me.

Fear of facing issues: If I don’t talk about, it will be forgotten.

Fear of punishment: I something bad happened, then it must be my fault or I must make myself miserable.

These are some of the irrational beliefs we have due to our past conditioning. However, this past conditioning need not become an excuse for us to avoid facing the issues, as uncomfortable as they may make us. By sifting through irrational beliefs in ourselves and others, we can begin to see clearly and make rational decisions.

Examples of irrational thoughts and beliefs:

Situation: Childhood-My father is angry at me.
Emotion: I’m scared
Irrational Thought/Belief: He doesn’t love me. (Irr. thought)
Therefore I’m no good. (Irr. belief)

Adulthood: I feel neglected.
Emotion: I’m lonely and scared.
Irrational Thought/Belief: He/she doesn’t love me. (Irr. thought)
Therefore he/she loves someone else.(Irr. belief)

These irrational thoughts and beliefs follow each other interchangeably. If the belief is “I’m no good,” the irrational thought that will follow is “I’m not lovable.”

By examining the reasons behind certain behaviors or words, you have the power to determine whether you want to end a conflict or perpetuate it. You can ask yourself many questions such as “Why do I want to solve this issue?” or “Why was I so angry when she or he said that to me?” or “How can I precisely convey my thoughts or feelings to my partner?”

Above all, try to listen to your partner without interrupting or going into a self-defense mode. Many times we become distracted thinking about what we are going to say next instead of hearing what the other person is saying. It is extremely frustrating when a listener looks away while you are talking to them. Watch for those behaviors in yourself and in your partner.

In the next section we will look into listening to needs to resolve issues.

Source: Living a Blissful Marriage

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