top of page you want to sink or swim?

Marriage is not for the faint of heart. It’s not for the ‘you better meet my needs’ partner. And it’s certainly not for the ‘why can’t they just read my mind’ person either. Marriage is HARD WORK. Its rewards are infinite. Literally. But they come with a huge cost. And the price is our ego, our entitlements, our pity parties, our pointing fingers. They come with the cost of us facing our own need for growth. Growth in communication. Growth in listening skills. Growth in vulnerable communication. Growth in setting healthy boundaries. (Yes, you read that right. Boundaries in marriage are a real thing.) And growth in owning our own emotional immaturity.

In this blog I would like to specifically talk about our need for growth in communication; people talk and they use words, but if you can picture a swimmer swimming on the surface of the water, while underneath are magnanimous currents. The words people use are the swimmer, attempting to cross the gulf but the heart and meaning of what people are actually trying to communicate, are the undercurrents. Part of learning to listen, is learning to separate what people are saying, from what people are actually trying to communicate. With the awkward communicator, the swimmer and the undercurrents are so vastly different most times. Intentionally listening to someone to understand what they are really trying to communicate is emotional maturity. ‘Listening’ to someone in order to be able to defend your position or put blame on somebody else is emotional immaturity. Any fool can do that.

Body language, movement and posture, space given, eye contact, tone of voice, facial expressions all feed the undercurrents. Social scientists and communication experts say that actual words used, comprise of perhaps 7% of the full message being relayed. What’s the lesson to be learnt here? Listen to hear what is being said in words and then lean in further to hear what is really being said.

Here are some practical KEYS to unlocking moments of conflict where you seem to be going around and around the same issues, but you don’t seem to be winning at it ie reaching resolve in the conflict and being able to move past it.

1) Ask your spouse/person in conflict, when a good time would be to discuss the issue at hand and stick to that time. Don’t ‘throw it’ at the person in a passive aggressive way while in a stressful moment.

2) Ask your spouse/person in conflict, to explain how they feel about the situation. Explain to them, you are not here to defend your position, you are really here to understand them. That you are on the same team.

3) THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP! In your own words, repeat back to your spouse/person in conflict, what you think they have just said. Then ask them, “Have I understood what you just said?”

4) Listen to their feedback and if need be, ask them to repeat themselves again and listen with fresh ears, to understand WHAT EXACTLY IS THE ISSUE AT HAND.

You will be surprised how much you missed by not walking through this process of intentional listening. If you can get through these 4 steps with sincerity of heart and a genuine ear to hear, many of the miscommunications that come through strife and having to ‘have the last word’, just go away. They get dealt with before they even begin.

Here’s to healthy ‘swimmers’/communicators, who learn to read the undercurrents in conversations to effectively communicate even better.

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