Open the Door before you start Communicating
For those who love to watch HGTV, you will recognize the favorite phrase of “open floor plan”. Everybody seems to want it. They beg for it, whine and complain about walls being in place, and then DEMO DAY comes and walls start coming down. (If you haven’t seen it, believe me, it’s a really special time. As noted below)
The host of the show and family get excited! Sledgehammers come out. Dust and insulation flies everywhere and the wall is gone in a matter of 4 seconds. Well, at least that is how long it takes in television time. And then, no good HGTV show would be complete without significant structural damage or at least a water-line breaking.
And sometimes it doesn’t go exactly as planned…but I digress
Realizing this lesson about taking down walls and opening the floor plan is an excellent comparison to communication in marriage. There are often walls present in a marriage, and for good talking to occur those need to come down.
- (1) Don’t build the walls
As obvious as this sounds, it is always easier to never have a wall present instead of having to take it down. Walls can be missed moments of connection. Hurt feelings. Protection strategies.
If possible if you start to see a wall of communication start coming up between you, get it down immediately. Wet concrete in blocks is easier to remove than hardened concrete.
- (2) Practice Open Communication when talking to each other
Everyday talking is just as important as being able to talk about huge items. Remember what you did in dating? All of those special dates, long phone calls, romantic walks in the park…you probably talked most of the time. You shared with each other about your day, you laughed and told jokes, you probably even talked about what you ate that day. Simple things, but it built a platform for you to be able to talk about important things.
In fact, the “big” items didn’t even seem complicated, I bet, during those time. Why? Because you were so close to each other and naturally, you just talked…And talked, and talked, and talked.
Fast forward 10 or 15 years and the same lessons apply. The more you talk, the easier it still is.
- (3) Give yourself and your spouse grace when mistakes happen
Have you ever played a musical instrument? Or at least attempted to learn to play an instrument, or heard your 6-year old try to learn? It can be painful to the ear. Mistakes happen, and sometimes they sound awful. But no one fusses at a child who is practicing, yells at them, and says “No more practicing the piano until you get it right!” Yes, it is as silly as that thought.
Just as you would gently encourage the budding Mozart to keep practicing, you should give your spouse grace while they are learning to communicate WITH YOU. You are the musical instrument in the marriage. Pushing each other’s notes correctly is crucial to a beautiful orchestral piece of marriage. There will be mistakes, but graciously forgive and let them keep talking to you.
Sometimes just the simple statement of “I’m sorry, we didn’t get that discussion right, and I want to do better next time. Will you please keep working with me?” shows that you are wanting to change and are willing to keep at it.
- (4) Open Communication requires planning
Not every moment is the best moment to have meaningful conversations. Sometimes, a little bit of planning is essential. For example: If dinner is burning, and the kids are fussing because they are hungry…this is not the time. If your husband is exhausted after a tough day at work and he just walked in the door…this is not the time either. Also, *men* if she is struggling through PMS or very painful cramping, this is not the time either.
It may mean that you will need to talk a few hours later than you planned or it can mean that you need to pull out your calendars and schedule a time. Try to do it shortly as possible because scheduling five weeks out is not helpful to anyone.
- (5) Admit that you may need help
While it is very typical for each relationship to struggle with communication, if you find yourself surrounded by walls all the time then it is time to get help. This is not easy for anyone, but support is out there.
The first step in conflict and problem-solving is admitting that there is a problem. While it may not seem very big, it is because you are showing that you care enough for your spouse by asking for help. The first step is always realizing that there is a problem AND you need help.
If you find yourself in this situation, reach out to me. Private coaching is available. I can help #becauseIcare