Continuing on the theme of relationships, let’s talk “Communication.” I can go on forever on this, but in order to not transform this blog into a book I’ll get right to the point. Communication is key in any relationship, but more so in dating/marriage relationship. As important as it is, communication may not be important to everyone and by that I mean, it was not important to me. Odd being I enjoy communicating through words.
The first year of dating, Jarrod and I had a hard time because I found it extremely difficult to communicate. A lot of that stems from my upbringing. We are the way we are based on how we were raised and the example that was before us. Don’t get me wrong, my parents did an awesome job, but no one is perfect. No marriage is perfect. That is why it is so very important that if there are things you saw growing up that were not done well, when you start a family your job is to break history’s cycle. Don’t continue bad family traits. The excuse of “that’s the way we do things” is not only selfish, but a weak excuse that stuns character development and growth.
Jarrod is the type of person that wants to immediately address the problem. I on the other hand, would much rather wait things out or forget about it entirely. It goes as far as I’d tell Jarrod, “don’t talk to me” as means to avoid the conflict entirely. Sometimes it got even wild as I’d avoid him entirely so as to not have to address the problem at hand. Jarrod always teases that for someone with such small stature, I can be a fireball. Trust, me I am not proud of that side of me. Confrontation is not my cup of tea. Not in the slightest. I just hate addressing issues. I’d much rather sulk in my hurt than address the issue and move on. With our difference in personalities in how we address problems, we bucked heads quite a bit. Naturally so. It can be the simplest most basic miscommunication, I’d much rather avoid rather than talk out what would take less than five minutes to resolve. With our unique approach in how we address miscommunication and problems, we had to work through a number of issues early on. All because one party wanted to deal with things in the moment and other didn’t.
Want to know a secret? Well, it really is no secret since we’ve told those who asked advice on communication. Here it is, we went to counseling. We finally got enough of it and went to our Pastor seeking guidance. We didn’t want to call things quit because of communication. Besides communication issues, we were doing just fine. We did however, did not want to keep bad habits throughout our relationship. The inability to communicate was not grounds to walk our separate ways. After talking to our Pastor, we decided on bi-weekly counseling sessions using the Prepare Enrich couples assessment tool. This tool was primarily used in the church for marriage counseling. We didn’t want to wait until marriage to work out issues and figure out how to communicate. Pastor thought it was a brilliant idea and so counseling was in session.
Through counseling, I found out a lot about myself. We both did. We realized, we both wanted the same thing. We wanted peace and understanding. The difficulty was we showed that to each other very differently. Jarrod’s version of peace is squashing there and now in order to not deal with a grumpy [at the time] girlfriend. My version of peace is moving on and forgetting about it. Neither approach is correct. Our intents while may seem pure to one party or the other was really stemmed from selfishness. I selfishly wanted to get over it and so did Jarrod. We expressed this differently.
The goal of communication and conflict resolution is not merely “getting over things.” It is healing a wound. Whether big or small, a wound remains a wound unless addressed to heal. Left unresolved, the wound only get’s bigger until you have an infected and poisoned heart. That’s where bitterness comes from [a discussion for another day]. Healing is found in proper communication. Through counseling we were able to develop tools that we use today and probably will continue to do so through the length of our relationship. We have not and will not always get it right, but we’ve implemented these tools time and time as issues come up. Interestingly, issues became increasing less as understanding between our different communication styles were addressed and grasped by the party.
Here’s one tip I will leave with you. If you are struggling to communicate with your significant other, figure out your different communication styles and choose to meet in the middle. I cannot instantaneously process like Jarrod can. He knows how he feels and means what he says and can confront with no issue within the moment conflict arises. My personality requires time. I need to process, formulate my thoughts and understand exactly how I feel. If rushed I will say things I will eventually regret and cannot take back. The words that come out of my mouth when hurt and angry cuts deeper than actual wounds. In order to avoid being placed in that position, we had to learn to meet in the middle. Jarrod had to understand the importance of giving time, while I had to develop a habit of condensing the processing time. It wasn’t easy at first, but the more we implemented, the better we got. If an issues comes up, I give Jarrod a reasonable time that I would be ready to talk and we would decide mutually if that was too long drawn out or reasonable. Today, I can proudly say that rather than taking hours to get over things, within a couple minutes we can resolve, heal and move forward. Bigger issues can extend to an hour or so, but for the most part, we were able to resolve. Most importantly, we were able to heal whatever hurt was present rather than simply getting over things.
I will leave you with this. While I am a huge believer of counseling for those who are struggling in their relationship, if you choose not to, here are a couple things to keep in mind:
- It’s always better to resolve the differences you have with those that hurt or offend you.
- Understand forgiveness is for you, not them.
- You are not always right.
- The goal of communication is never to prove a point, rather to hear the heart of those that are hurting.
- Conflict resolution requires give and take.
- Never use “name calling.”
- Never bring up the past.
- Give each other grace
- Most importantly, remember to love.
Are you in conflict with a loved one or friend? How can you make things right today?