Communication Landmines in a Marriage That Blow Up

Assumptive Talk

These are based on assumptions arrived at by husband or wife about what the other is going to say or do in a particular situation. This assumption is usually based on past experiences. And partners assume that they can precisely predict the other’s behaviour or communication. The reality is that often these assumptions go wrong.

For example, how many times when you wanted to explain something have you heard your partner tell you like: “You need not speak. I know what you are going to tell!” And he or she doesn’t allow you to talk however hard you try. This denial of opportunity to explain your actions is based on faulty assumptions. And it corrodes a healthy relationship.

The truth is that not all situations are the same. Even though it might be generally true that your husband or wife speaks in a particular way; never deny the other the opportunity to express his or her views. It might surprise you to know that what he or she intended to say was quite pleasantly different from what you had assumed.

Reactive Talk

When a husband or wife speaks in a reactive manner it is like pouring fuel into a already flaming fire. This happens when one of the partners makes a thoughtless remark. Instead of trying to find out the real reason why such a remark came, usually the husband or wife goes on a tirade. For example, have you not heard a husband say something like, “The expenses are mounting high each passing month. I think we should cut down on non-essentials.”

The husband might have said this with good intentions. But it might have been thoughtless from him, because only last week his wife had bought two sets of dress. She on the other hand would definitely think he made the comment because she bought the dress.

And now the scene becomes a little bit like, “On your marks, get set, go.” Now the wife reacts. She says, “I know that you said this because I bought two sets pf dress. This year it is the first time I bought something for myself. And always when I buy something for myself, you start talking about cutting expenses. I know it irritates you when I look beautiful.” The rest is history.

Victim Talk

There are husbands and wives who speak like victims all the time. They might be doing this out of habit. But it influences one’s personality, behaviour and communication very negatively. In fact, it is not at all a pleasant experience to talk with someone who speaks a victim’s language all the time. Such persons almost always has a negative opener when they talk. They sigh even while you talk to them over the phone.

You try asking them, “Hope things are fine with you?” And then what do you hear in reply. Possibly something like, “What to say. The situation is almost the same. He/she is just concerned about his/her own problems. Doesn’t even recognize a person like me is here. I am left to carry all the burdens myself. While he/she is enjoying life.”

Let us imagine that what this person is saying is true. Let us also assume that there is nothing wrong in such expressions. But then what is the real problem? The problem is that such a husband or wife is constantly believing the lie that he or she is a victim of circumstances. He or she is resigned to the thought that nothing can be changed. He or she does not believe that anything good will come out of this marriage. This is the danger.

The truth is that, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (Proverbs 18:21). If the husband or wife who talks like a victim can realize that he or she need not be a victim, then he or she can start talking differently; with enthusiasm, joy and postive tones. By refusing to talk the victim language the person is declaring himself or herself free from a cycle of bondage that has prevented them from enjoying their marriage.

In fact, life at its best will come when the victim talk ends and is replaced by pleasant talk. The wise teacher wrote: “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24). There is more truth in this statement than has ever been found out!

Angry Silence

Quarrels are not uncommon in marriage. It can happen for silly or serious reasons. Often the person who started the quarrel soon realizes that it was his or her fault. Then he or she tries to come and apologize to him/her. But the partner refuses to talk. And a stony silence is what the other person gets.

Most often the person who is saying sorry might not realize what has angered his/her partner so much. He or she might have said something without giving it much thought. But that would have deeply hurt the other person. It is for that reason he or she is maintaining an angry silence. In extreme cases this torture of silence can run into weeks.

The simple principle to remember here is this. You are losing valuable time by going into the silent mode. Each moment you spend like that is decreasing the possibility of a restored relationship. So the right thing if you are grieved partner is this: When the other person comes and tells you that he/she is sorry; accept it. And then tell him/her that you would like to talk about what happened later; after the emotions would cool.

Then gently educate the partner as to what exactly angered you and why you resorted to the silent mode. If you do not do that your partner will never understand why you went into the silent mode. And this situation will repeat itself many more times in future too.

Always remember St. Paul’s advice: “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry” (Ephesians 4:26). Husbands and wives who follow this principle make it a point to resolve all differences of opinion before they go to sleep everyday. You too can make this a golden principle of your marriage.

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