Dan and I just celebrated our 29th wedding anniversary this month! We traveled thru four states in ten days! It was an awesome trip with some amazing sights, but it never fails when we journey together we often find ourselves in big discussions about which way to go. I'm a back-road queen and love the road less traveled. Dan, on the other hand, prefers the reliable path. This model is a great example of how couples sometimes communicate and communication is a path all couples have to travel. Many times, women like to talk everything out and adventure to the end of the road in conversation. Men almost always prefer just the facts, less conversation, and peaceful normalcy. These roles can be reversed based on differences in personality, but even Science says it's usually the woman who has the most words to say.
Do you struggle with communication?
Conversation was one area where Dan and I had a lot to learn. For many years, it was a bumpy road where I often found myself complaining about Dan's communication skills. Several years back, I had a break through. The truth hit me as I realized the bigger problem with our communication was not him. It was me. (Ouch!) My need to constantly analyze a situation, create a solution to a problem, or simply state my opinion was at the root of our problem. Don't get me wrong, a wife's beautiful role in communication and the act of gathering and giving information is one of the many keys to success in marriage. I lay out the details about this powerful role within God's divine design in my book, "Chaos in the Castle or Peace in the Palace?. The challenge in marriage arises when we don't understand our differences as men and women. Because of those created contrasts, if we're not careful, women can operate in the tendency to talk a situation to death. Why? Because we are naturally more detail oriented and we have twice as many utterances to utter in a day.
When the king speaks, do you listen?
In the midst of my own epiphany, I realized the king of my palace wasn't talking because the queen wasn't listening. It made sense. If you're not going to be heard or your words are not going to be valued, why speak? Scientific studies back up the fact women have twice as many words to speak on a daily basis than men. For that reason, we have to be careful not to fill the air with empty words while our husband is struggling to fit in a priceless point.
For many years, after Dan and I would end a conversation, I would often realize I was the one who did all the talking. Sadly, I knew nothing more about his thoughts on the matter than when we started. That all changed the day I realized I needed to stop talking as much and start listening more. I knew it might require setting guidelines and goals with boundaries within daily dialogue, but I was willing to make the effort to create a healthy place for conversation to occur.
Which conversation path do you flow in?
I remember in our premarital counseling many years ago, Dan and I were told within every marriage there is a bubbling brook and a quiet stream. Science not only says we have more words than men but also men process information differently than women. It would seem women are often the bubbling brook in the relationship for that reason. Men however like to think before they speak, and when they speak they have a desire to be respected because respect is love and speaks to the heart of a man. Women on the other hand often think out loud without giving much thought to what they're saying, and sometimes when our thoughts bubble over they can be quite intimidating, especially if our spouse is the quiet stream and we're bubbling away like a brook.
That was exactly what was going on in our marriage. I was such a bubbling brook, my husband, the quite stream, was silent. You might be relieved to know you and I are not the first women to struggle. Actually, a case can be made that it all started in the Garden of Eden at creation. After all, that's where communication broke down for the first time between the newly married couple. Could it be Adam was a quiet stream and Eve wasn't comfortable with the lack of words between them so she struck up a conversation with a serpent? With Eve's bubbly personality, as she began to talk to the intruder in their midst, Adam stood watching and remained silent. If we want to reverse the effects of that chaotic conversation, we have to create a different atmosphere and build a safe haven for open dialogue so we don't find ourselves in a broken system of miscommunication.
How do we do create healthy conversation?
We start by embracing our individuality and uniqueness as a couple. We have to understand that even though men typically have fewer words, they're words are not less valuable. If the role is reversed and your husband happens to be the bubbling brook, the rules still apply. We have to allow our spouse to be who they are and who God created them to be when it comes to their way of talking. Just because men scientifically have fewer words doesn't mean their words hold less power. They may not speak their thoughts in the way you or I would or even say what we always want to hear, but when they speak it can be priceless. Creating conversation is a start in the right direction in spite of our differences. The beautiful reality is God created opposites to attract because each person in the relationship has strengths and weaknesses that their partner needs and together they make an incredible combination, even in communication.
Are you willing to try these ideas?
Do you choose palace or castle conversation?
In palace days, if a queen refused to listen to the king of her kingdom she could be sentenced to exile or even death causing war to break out and castle living to set in. (Oh my!) If you want your king to speak, take the time to control your speech and quietly listen. After he has spoken, he will value what you also have to say since he's been heard. If your spouse struggles in this area, don't try to force change. Instead, create an atmosphere where they can feel good about speaking and being heard. In the end, communication is the key to every healthy happy marriage. Strong relationships stay strong when people talk on a daily basis. It's a part of staying glued together as one flesh. I don't know about you, but I prefer palace pillow talk over chaotic castle conversation any day of the week!
"If we want our spouse to talk, we have to create a safe place for their voice to be heard and their words to be spoken without criticism or judgment."
Do you want to live in a war-torn castle or a peaceful palace?
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