"Every day we use our words. What is it we build, a bridge or a wall?"
Marriage is no longer what it used to be. In the past, perhaps mother and father loved each other and perhaps they did not. Whether they did or did not was irrelevant. Marriages hardly ever broke up. Today, for better or for worse, most couples demand love in a relationship. Love in itself can mean many things to many people but for most, being understood is one thing that does matter.
This holds true especially for women who can now meet most of their financial needs themselves. Emotional needs in a relationship have become very important. Women need to bond and they need to communicate. Communicating so the other understands is a must and none of us have been taught that. Therefore, we all are learning the hard way - bruised hearts and egos, swollen eyes and sulking partners.
Let's look at why we have trouble communicating.
Men evolved as lunch chasers/hunters. Often the hunters would sit for hours silently watching for their prey. They didn't talk and they didn't bond. As a result, their bodies and brains evolved differently. Women on the other hand were the nurturers. They were left behind with other families and children to build relationships and communicate. Hence, they evolved differently. Today, more and more research shows that men and women are 'wired' differently.
Given this background, imagine a scene when there are two people talking in two different languages and trying to get the point across. It is natural to expect a problem, some frustration, some misinterpretations and eventually perhaps a sense of discouragement if they are unable to understand what the other is trying to say.
Any of you felt like this after a fight with your spouse? There is some good news. It happens in most marriages AND it can be worked on. The Dictionary of Psychology states that in order to have communication, both transmitter and receiver must share a 'common code' so that the meaning or information contained in the message may be interpreted without error. The common code can be learnt.
Steps to Effective Communication
1. Perhaps the first step to keep the love alive is to accept that men and women are different and RESPECT that difference. It does not make any one of us lesser because we do not respond or react the way the other does.
2. Do remember that when a man is silent, it's easy for a woman to feel unloved. A husband then needs to learn to talk a little more and a wife needs to know that silence does not mean sulking or that anything is wrong. Allow him that silence without being affronted or feeling unloved.
3. Talking about day to day problems is what helps women cope with stress. Often when wives talk about their problems husbands respond to it as a plea for a 'solution', because of their analytical nature. The conflict is that he wants to help and she only wants to share. Then husbands need to 'listen' and wives will feel relieved that they have spoken it out and their partner has listened supportively.
4. When a man is offered advice that he has not asked for, it makes him think that the other person presumes he does not know what to do - and he feels incompetent and criticized. When a man feels unappreciated he stops giving support. As a wife, help your husband to feel affirmed and competent by letting him know that you trust his abilities to handle things.
5. To get support from husbands, wives need to learn how to 'ask'. They presume that if they just keep 'giving' more and more their partner will feel generous and give in return. Husbands think women are giving because they want to, and keep taking. Communicating their needs will help to cope with this.
Just understanding and accepting this difference and wanting to learn how to communicate can enhance a marriage. If one is committed to the relationship and to understanding one another better, the love will be maintained and the relationship will surely flourish.