In Part 1 of our discussion on Bulletproofing our Marriages so that they don’t get pummeled by the military lifestyle, we talked about trust and how important it is especially in a military relationship.
Today it’s all about communication!
Communication is so much more than what we typically think it is. According to Sandy Fowler, co-creator of the communication product Your 4 Keys, when we think of communication we often think of it from a verbal or non verbal point of view. In fact, the most important part of communication is actually deep within each of us. It’s the one thing that is “all about you”. Sounds crazy right, but not when you really think about it.
When we communicate with another person we do so first from inside our own mind. We listen, talk and think about our conversations by attaching our own meaning to everything we discuss. Communication starts with us because everything that transpires between ourselves and other people is filter through our thoughts and based on our past experiences.
Without being consciously aware that we are doing it, each of us makes assumptions based on the fact that we think we know the other person and what they are going to say. This is especially true when we talk about communication with our spouses. We think we know how they will respond to everything, and because of this we often script our conversations based on that idea rather than really listening to what they are actually saying.
It’s no wonder that if communication is essentially an “I” centered thing, that learning better ways to communicate our thoughts with our spouses is critical to building a stronger marriage. Communication is vital to any marriage, but even more so when you are dealing with the stress and change that military couples go through.
We all know what it’s like to live thousands of miles apart with your primary method of communication centering on electronic devices. It’s crazy to think that Skype, social media, text messaging and static filled phone conversations could leave us feeling good about our relationship or ability to communicate effectively. It’s also important to recognize the challenges that are present and to make a conscious effort to develop coping strategies so that when these issues come up, you have a little understanding and a whole lot of patience and can work with each other to make up the distance.
There are 4 things to understand if you want to improve the communication aspect of your marriage:
- You are a Filter: Remember that everything that you and your spouse hear during a conversation is filtered through your unique thoughts, feelings, experiences, fears and insecurities.
- Don’t know what we want: One of the biggest challenges to communicating is knowing what we really want. I can remember a time when my husband was in Iraq and I was dealing with my son’s health issues. The phone line was crackling like the Fourth of July and we were having trouble hearing each other. Both of us were frustrated and knew that it was best to hang up before we got angry with one another. However, the phone line wasn’t the real issue. The real issue was that my husband had a 10 minute window to call me, and because I didn’t know exactly what I wanted from him, both of us were frustrated. I wanted him to make things better and he didn’t have enough information or time to be able to do that. Had I been clear on what I wanted and remembered that he was listening through his “I’m not home to help her” guilty filter, things would have gone much better. Knowing what you want and clearly stating your needs are the best ways to improve your ability to communicate with your spouse even during those times when you only get 10 minutes of their time.
- Make assumptions about what they think or feel: As a married couple we know our spouse almost as well as we know ourselves. We can anticipate their needs, know when things are troubling them and are the one person who gets to deal with all of their moods.
- End Your Conversations On The Same Page. True communication ends when both parties walk away feeling heard, understood and resolute. It’s all about understanding each other’s view point and coming together in a way that shows you care and respect one another.
 Discover what communication really is, how it affects everything, and the Four Keys essential to getting it right with Your 4 Keys Communication Product by Sandy Fowler and Lisa Guruzzi available at http://your4keys.com
~Judy Davis, the Direction Diva is a motivational speaker, author and entrepreneur as well as a military life and teen suicide prevention expert. Co-founder of DASIUM, Judy’s books Right Side Up and Warning Signs: Is Your Teen at Riskare go to resources for families and her websites are filled with tips, inspiration and resources for those looking for direction. Connect with Judy at TheDirectionDiva.com