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INTRODUCTION

Food, shelter, and clothing have been identified as the three basic needs of man. But then, man has much more
than those physical needs. As with the three basic physical needs of man, he also has spiritual needs,
physiological needs (such as sex), and emotional needs such as love, intimacy, relationships, and communication
- a desire to hear and to be heard, a need to listen and to be listened to.

Love is beautiful and ecstatic but relationships are intricate and puzzling. The love in the heart has to be
expressed through actions and words. But if the the art of word-expression is not learnt, words could become
worse than swords. And cause more harm to the soul than poison and this invariably strains our marital or
premarital relationship.

A couple was celebrating their fiftieth wedding anniversary. They cut the cake and celebrated with family. After
all their guests had left the home, the wife said, “After all these years, I find you tried and true.” Her aged
husband put his hand behind his ears and yelled, ‘What did you say?’ She said, “After all these years, I’ve found
you tried and true.” Once again, he put his hand behind his ears and said, “I didn’t quite hear you. Would you say
that again?” this time, his wife of fifty years yelled at the top of her voice, “After all these years, I find you tried
and true!” her husband responded, after all these years, I’m tired of you too.”

Most breakups in marriage and relationships is as a result of breakdown in communication.

It takes love for two people to come together in love relationships, but it requires sound communication for
them to stay together and peacefully co-exist. Genuine love is like a very fragile flower. It must be protected and
nurtured if it is to survive. Love can perish when a man and his woman are unable to communicate with each
other. There is no lonelier person than one who lives with a spouse with whom he or she cannot communicate.
Communication fosters love and good feelings. A certain research revealed that happily married people live
longer than do the unmarried or divorced, per insurance statistics. And the reason given for this is that they can
talk out their inner tensions to each other, so their blood pressure goes down. When communication stops
flowing, some people assume that it is because the love between they and their partners is lost. whereas, it was
the lack of communication itself that lead to the loss of love in the first place. Where sound communication
abounds, love flourishes. Love is produced by attraction but anchored by conversation!

Of all the creatures in existence, only man is gifted with the natural capacity to engage in intelligible
communication. Yet it's quite appalling how many fail to use it (and how others simply misuse it.)

However, it's not enough to talk; the art of communication must be learnt else our words become worse than
silence. To have something to say is one thing, to know how to say it in a way that doesn't cause a disaster in
your relationship is quite another.
THE ANATOMY OF COMMUNICATION
Communication may be defined as the process of sending a message through a medium to the receiver. It is the
art of passing across information, news, a feeling or knowledge to someone else. Through communication, a
message or information is exchanged between two parties – the sender and receiver.

There are basically four elements of communication. These are:

The information – this is the message to be passed across e.g. displeasure in something that has just
happened or was done by one’s spouse.

The sender – this is the one who intends passing a message across e.g. the wife who is displeased.

The medium – this refers to the means that the sender chooses to use to pass on the feeling, idea or
information. It could be action, inaction, reaction, gestures, or words.

The receiver – this is the person to whom a message is being communicated. In a sense, the essence of
communication revolves around him – whether or not communication can be said to have taken place is
largely dependent on him – whether he comprehends the message or not.

We can infer, therefore, from the preceding context that the components of communication are

The speaker/communicator

The message

The medium, and

The receiver.

And for communication to take place, these four things must be in place. For a message to be properly
transmitted and received, both the sender and receiver must play their roles well.

COMMUNICATION IN MARRIAGE

"Love,real love is far more than feelings; it is knowing, and knowing involves time and time is talk."

Drawing upon ten years of research involving 130 family scholars, Dr. Larry Halter gives five specific reasons
why marriages get into trouble and they are:

The breakdown of pleasing behavior


Skill deficit and negative pressure tactics
Low self esteem
No time together, and
Negative communication behaviors.

The reason behind the breakups of many marriages is the breakdown in communication. If your
relationship will be preserved, negative communication patterns must be eliminated.
Some people are fond of some negative strategies such as sporadic outburst of anger (which is a sign of inner
weakness or hostility), shedding of tears (all in an attempt to cover up for their weaknesses and shortcomings,
thereby preventing further discussion on the issue on ground), and silence. I I'm aware that you may be
surprised to see silence as one of the negative communication patterns but for real, it is.

Silence, they say is golden, but this is dependent on the situation. In marriage it could be deadly because, it takes
force to be silent for a long period of time and that force incites bitterness and fuels anger.
So you see, silence is not always golden, at least not in marriage. Silence (or the end of a discussion) may not
imply that a solution has been reached - calm waters sometimes conceal sharks. Negative communication habits
should be checked because misfortunes always come in by the doors that have been left open for them.
In his widely read book Competent to Counsel, Jay Adams related the following anecdote: A man was driving
along a highway in his expensive new car. And suddenly he realized that the red warning light marked "oil" on
his instrument panel was flashing. Ignoring the instruction issued in the car owner's manual stating that in the
event of the flashing red light the driver should stop his car immediately, he continued merrily along. After a
while, the constant flashing of the lights began to annoy him though he tried to think of something else. He even
turned the instrument panel lights off, but to no avail. Finally, the solution came to him. He reached into the
glove compartment, pulled out a hammer, and smashed the light to pieces. Peaceful at last, he continued on his
euphoric oblivion until his car burned up.

One way to ignore problems is to deny that they exist. However, ignoring a problem doesn't solve it. Many
people overlook issues that are tearing down their emotions and killing them on the inside - all for the sake of
peace, yes, "for peace to reign." Instead of facing reality and seeking solution, they leave things to time. I hold it
true that things don’t change with time because time itself changes nothing. If things are left only with time, they
will change for the worse. This, I think is in correlation with the Law of Degeneration which speaks of the fact
that with time (or when things are left alone), they grow worse. We must learn the right approach to
communicate how we feel and address issues affecting our relationship before the problem becomes
irresolvable. If our marriage will be preserved, the laws of communication must be learnt and negative
communication patterns eliminated because, like I've said, the reason behind the breakups of many marriages
is the breakdown in communication.

Differences and misunderstandings in marriage are not really dangerous but not being able to communicate
with each other about those issues is where the potential for problems lies. Communication is to love what
blood is to the body. When it stops flowing, a relationship starts dying. Howbeit, communication is not the art of
winning an argument. You can win an argument and lose your marriage.

Communication is the lifeblood of marriage.

I’m not saying without communication a marriage will not hold but that - if you see a working marriage, you’ve
found a relationship in which effective communication takes place. And that lack of effective communication is
responsible for the splitting and breaking down of marriages. John R. Bisagno succinctly observed:

"Fully 25%, if not half of the couple with whom I speak are having problems that should have long since been
resolved or never happened in the first place. Serious problems have arisen because they are feeling the same
thing, but are simply not saying it. Their inability to communicate verbally has amplified their problem into a
mountainous catastrophe. It is amazing how little things are catapulted into major divisive problems simply
because two people will not talk."

Most major problems are the outgrowth of something very small.

Though we humans are the only creatures with the gift of intelligible, verbal communication, we talk the least
and fight the most.
The couple who cannot communicate about sex or inlaws today is the couple who could not communicate about
picking dirty socks in the bathroom yesterday!

THE PURPOSE OF COMMUNICATION

"The wise speaks because he has something to say but the foolish speaks because he has to say something."

Communication is used or done for the following reasons:

Inter-relationship
Transmission of information
Expression of feelings e.g. love, anger, displeasure etc.
Inter-personal exchange of ideas
Insights into a person’s needs
Conflict resolution
Counsel – direction and guidance.
Encouragement, appreciation and apology
Bonding etc

THE COMPONENTS OF COMMUNICATION

If we dissect the term ‘communication’ a bit, we’ll realize that some of the things it is comprised of are:

Verbal - the spoken words


Vocal – the tone of one’s voice – how you sound and how you speak
Visual - body language and the non-verbal gestures.
Venue - the place (and time) suitable for communication

These preceding imperative and fundamental rudiments of communication lead us to –

THE PRINCIPLES OF EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION

Choice of Words (verbal)

Mr. Myrick had to go to Chicago on business and persuaded his brother to take care of his cat during his absence.
Though Mr. Myrick’s brother wasn’t a cat lover, he agreed to do it as a favour. When Myrick returned from his
trip, he called his brother to check on his cat. His brother bluntly reported in a manner-of-fact tone, “Your cat
died.” And he hung up.

For days, Myrick was inconsolable, then his sadness turned to anger at his brother for being so brutally honest
and insensitive. He phoned his brother and said, “It was needlessly cruel and sadistic to tell me so bluntly that
my poor cat has passed away.”

“What did you expect me to do,” demanded his brother.

“You could have broken the news gradually,” grumbled Myrick. “First you could have called to say that the cat
was playing on the roof, later you could have said it fell off. The next morning, you could have reported, he broke
his leg. Then when I came to pick him up, you could have told me he passed away during the night. Well, it’s not
just your style to be civilized. Now tell me, how is mama?”
After a long pause, a meek tone at the other end replied, “She’s playing on the roof.”

A marriage counsellor, R.C. Sproul once quoted an anonymous speaker, “To discover the secret of
communication, one must undertake the Herculean task of sailing between Scylla and Charybdis, using the
sword of Damocles to cut the Gordian Knot that it may fit its Procrustean bed!” After which he added, “Whoever
said that ought to be shot.”

The place of the choice of words in effective communication is invaluable. This is actually where communication
begins. It happens to be the bankbone of communication. Knowing what to say is more important than saying
something.
When the arrow leaves the bow, it never returns – so are words. You can’t just allow words escape your mouth
without forethought – the fish is killed by its open mouth, remember.
Communication begins with what to say. And this must be done thoughtfully, considering that you’ll be speaking
to an emotional being and not a robot. Benjamin Franklin implored, ‘Remember not only to say the right thing in
the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.’ The more
positive and beneficial the experience someone has when interacting with you, the greater that person’s desire
will be to continue the relationship.

A family life counselor, Mrs. Chaplain made known:

Ill-chosen words can injure without living any visible traits and deceitful and inappropriate ones can
turn a marvelous day into a disaster. Honest words carefully selected can help your spouse better save a
lot of heart ache and foster good feelings.” Kind words is certainly one of the ways by which we build
each other up and a fundamental means of building one another’s self esteem. Honest words carefully
selected can help your spouse better save a lot of heart ache and foster good feelings.

To keep your marriage brimming with love in the loving cup, whenever you are wrong, admit it, whenever you
are right, shut up [Ogden Nash.]

Lord Chesterfield counseled, ‘Be wiser than other people if you can but do not tell them so.’
The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing in the right place, but to have unsaid the wrong
thing at the tempting moment [Dorothy Neville].

Learn not to criticize, lay blames, compare or remind of past failures and wrongs. Doing this would make you
partner react rather than respond to what you are saying.

Try using pluralistic terms such as ‘we’ rather than singular words e.g. you. You can say, for instance, “I think we
need to pay more attention to our kids. This is better than ‘You don’t care about the kids.’ This is critical and
makes your partner defensive. Consequently, your intention can’t be achieved.

Direct your words towards things – what was done, rather than persons – the doer. Instead of telling your
partner, “The way you spoke to Alex was so harsh.” You could say something like, “Darling, I feel that Alex may
feel unhappy about the way you spoke to him…” in the both cases, the same thing is being said, only that, in the
former, blame is being laid on the doer, but in the latter, one is referring to what was done – taking off the
emotional baggage.

You can respond, not react, to what is being done by your spouse by referring to your feelings rather than the
act itself. Response and reaction are two separate words both in meaning and in expression.
Consider this statement, “You never hold my hands whenever we are out there.” And this, “Sweetheart, I feel,
loved, honoured and secure whenever you hold my hands in public.” If, say, you’re a man, which of the
preceding statements would you prefer and positively respond to almost immediately? The latter of course!

True love doesn’t criticize or demand, it requests. Yes. Request, that is the language of love. Though implicit in
such (the former) statement is your need to be loved. The need for affection or any other thing can be
discounted as criticism and be easily neglected if expressed in a demanding way. You see, marriage is not a place
for ‘self’. Nothing rocks the matrimonial union like a demanding wife. Marriage is what you make of it so if you
want to be loved, you must learn to love. After all, love doesn’t demand, it gives.

Warning against criticism, Dale Carnegie said that it is futile because it puts a person on the defensive and make
him strive to justify himself. Criticism is dangerous because it wounds a person’s precious pride, hurts his sense
of importance, and arouses sentiment. By criticizing, we do not make lasting changes and often incur
resentment. The resentment that criticism engenders can demoralize people and still not correct the situation
that has been condemned.

Don’t address your partner’s personality, rather discuss the issue on ground.

A psychologist, Hans Selye commented, “As much as we thirst for approval, we dread condemnation.”

Come to think of it, if you care so much about your hand being held in public, you can actually initiate it – reach
out for your husband’s hand and lovingly hold it. I bet you, no one would notice who is actually holding the
other’s hand, all they would see are two hands being held together. And in no time, if hand-holding doesn’t come
naturally with your man, you would have succeeded in teaching him how to hold your hands.

Never make it an attitude to forcefully demand for things that you come across as a nagger – no one desires to
stay around one – and that includes your spouse. Never let nagging come in the way of communication. The
hearer often becomes defensive and unreceptive to what you are saying. It blinds his eyes from seeing what you
intend revealing

Someone once said to his fellow citizens, ‘we ought to be glad we are living in a country where folks can say
what they think without thinking.’ This doesn’t apply to marriage; failure to think before speaking can cause the
matrimonial boat to sink! Always think before you speak, don’t do otherwise. Knowing the right thing to say can
get you what you want so easily than saying the wrong thing or the right thing the wrong way.

A woman went to a store to buy things and was greatly displeased by the way they attended to her. Though this
grocery store had virtually all the things one would ordinarily need, the way they attended to their customers
was very poor.

When this woman returned, she went to report her regrettable experience to her neighbor who had told her
about the place and had encouraged her to patronize them. She told her about how she was neglected and never
attended on time. The look of their faces when they finally gave her attention was another point of
discouragement. After explaining everything to her neighbor, she vowed never to return there.

After some time, her neighbor pleaded with her to revisit the place. When she did, this time, they welcomed her
with smiles on their faces, greeted her and ask her what she wanted. They brought everything to her – saving
her the stress. When she was about leaving, she got a cheerful wave.

Being so pleased and excited, she hurried home and asked her neighbor whether she told them all her
complaints about the previous visit. To her amazement her neighbor answered ‘No’ but told her that she rather
told the people at the grocery store about how she (the complainer) was so pleased and happy about the way
they attended to her the first time she came to the store and how she decided to continue patronizing them.
Logically, appreciation should always precede correction. People are more likely to receive correction from
someone who appreciates and compliments them than from one who doesn’t.

Right words work wonders!

However, effective communication doesn’t end with just knowing what to say alone, but being persuasive. And
“To be persuasive,” Edward R. Murrow stated, “We must be believable. To be believable, we must be credible. To
be credible, we must be truthful.”

The Choice of Voice/Tone (vocal)

A man was having some difficulty communicating with his wife and he concluded that she was becoming hard of
hearing. So he decided to conduct a test without her knowing about it.

One evening, he sat on a chair on the far side of the room. Her back was to him and he could not see him. Very
quietly, he whispered, “Can you hear me?” There was no response.

Moving a little closer, he asked again, “Can you hear me?” still no reply.

Quietly, he edged closer and whispered the same words but still no reply. Finally, he moved right behind her and
said, “Can you hear me now? To his surprise and chagrin she responded with irritation in her voice, “For the fourth
time, yes!” - Our Daily Bread

Except your partner has some problems with his/her auditory responses, and is somewhat hard of hearing, you
can’t make him or her hear you by simply raising your voice, in fact, the exact opposite is achieved. Les Giblin
counseled, “When a person is shouted at, he simply cannot help but shout back, becoming angry; control the
other person’s tone of voice by controlling your own voice.” He further revealed that psychology has proven that
if you keep your voice soft, you will not become angry. He also added that Psychology has accepted as scientific
the Biblical injunction - a soft answer turneth away wrath.

When you respond to your partner in a soft and loving tone, shortly, he/she will begin to do the same. You don’t
have to be loud to prove a point!

The tone of your voice affects the meaning of your words. To get your message across while speaking, you need
to be comfortably and easily heard. When your voice is too low, it can prevent your words from being heard, and
also make you sound unconvincing. But then, too loud a voice can irritate and annoy your listener. You can
modulate the volume of your voice by raising and lowering its sound to stress certain words and phrases and
also to hold your listener’s attention, but only judiciously. In addition, you can also use pauses while speaking.
Pauses create anticipation so that the listener becomes eager to hear what you’ll say next. It’s kind of saying –
hear this!

The more you speak, the less a person listens and the less you speak, the more a person listens. True. But it’s
also factual that the more you raise your voice (in anger or out of desperation to be heard), the less a person
pays attention (or listens) to what you have to say. And in this respect, it is of utmost importance to make
known that it takes the ears to hear but the heart to listen. That is to say, the ear, as one of the five senses of man
is only responsible for hearing, but listening is a function of the mind. This explains why when a person is
asleep, though the ears are open, he can’t hear a thing because the brain, in a sense, isn’t active at that moment.
So, when you raise your voice in order to gain the attention of your listener, he/she becomes defensive and the
mind will be shut from listening to what you have to say or the feelings you seek to express. And it takes the
mind, not only to listen but also to comprehend, store and respond to the message that is being received. So by
raising the tone of your voice during conversation, you bridge the line of communication.

Dr. Kelvin Leman has wisely said that, “The tune of your voice says as much as or even more than your words. It
conveys and expresses the intents of your heart more than your words.”
So before you speak, always remember that the volume of your voice affects the meaning of your words.

Choice of Gestures (visual)

Actions, they say, speak louder than voice. What we do while we speak can either distort or complement the
message we are trying to pass across. It’s of vital importance to know that our partner not only listen to our
words but also watch and hear what our gestures say.
There are certain things we can do during conversation that can help take off the emotional baggage out of what
we are saying. For example, by holding your wife’s hand while correcting her of a mistake she made or
something wrong she did, you assure her that you love her still and what she’s done has not affected what you
feel for her one bit. Mildly nuzzling her hand assures her of your love for her and makes her feel secure in you.
By doing this alone, you would have succeeded in bringing down any wall of defense she would have otherwise
tried to raise. Also she would try to consider and give some thought to what you just told her even after the
discussion is over.
Closeness during conversation with your spouse is very essential. Try to move very close to your spouse while
discussing very important issues. This helps soften the voice of the two parties involved. Physical closeness
often modifies your partner’s countenance and response during discussion. Closeness also reduces tension and
desire for self defense and keeps your partner from negatively reacting to what you say.
Also, when you look someone in the face during communication, your body language shows that you are
interested in what he/she is saying. This gesture signals that you are attentive and receptive to their message.
However, while looking into someone’s eyes, don’t just stare at them blankly, rather, try to animate your face as
they are speaking by smiling, nodding or shaking your head when appropriate.
Avoiding eye contact signals disinterest to the speaker and may suggest that you have something to hide.

Words are heard with the ear, but non-verbal gestures are seen with the eyes and also felt with the heart. Don’t
let your gestures contradict your message!

Choice of Time (venue)

The choice of when to speak is as important as knowing what to say and the tone of voice to be used.
Never raise an issue when your spouse seems tired and exhausted, they could be tuned out of what you are
saying and this could make you feel unloved and even depressed. So to save yourself and get positive response,
always watch the mood of your partner before bringing up issues. Some matters are better discussed at night
and not in the morning when the man is preparing to leave for work and have his mind set on the activities of
the day, or when the woman has to prepare the kids for school and make breakfast.
Needless to say, you can’t bring up issues to discuss with your partner or try to correct him or her in the
presence of the kids.
Time also determines venue. There are some places and situations in which it is unsuitable to discuss certain
important things that would demand your partner’s full attention. For instance, you don’t expect your partner to
give you his (or her) full concentration if you decide to bring up an issue to be discussed while he or she is
driving. Except, of course, you’re planning to kill him because of the offense.
There are two basic elements of communication which are – speaking and listening. We’ve dealt with the
former, now, let’s consider the latter:

THE ART OF LISTENING


My Unilag English Module....tips on listening.

Newlyweds Laura and Johnny Benson of the Colorado stopped at the Horsetooth Reservoir in Fort Collins, on
the way to their wedding reception on Monday, after their ceremony at a local church. They were all smiles for
the camera – until a rattlesnake jumped onto the walking path, biting Johnny on the ankle. The couple and their
wedding photographer, Maddie Mae jumped into action, anxiously trying to flag down help. “A Larimer County
Park Ranger was driving by, and all three of us started waving furiously at him,” Mae tells, “he rolls down the
window and we yelled, ‘He just got bit by a rattlesnake!’ The ranger obviously not hearing what we said, yelled
back, ‘Congratulations!’ at the couple in wedding clothes.”1

JUST LISTEN
When I ask you to listen to me and you start giving me advice, you have not done what I asked. When I ask you to
listen to me and you start telling me that I shouldn’t feel that way, you are trampling on my feelings. When I ask
you to listen to me and you feel you have to do something to solve my problem, you have failed me, strange as that
may seem.

Listen! All that I ask was that you listen – not talk – or do – just hear me. Advice is cheap, thirty-five cents will get
you both Dear Abby and Billy Graham in the same newspaper. Whatever you do for me, I can do it for myself. I am
not helpless – maybe discouraged, but not helpless.

When you do something for me that I can and need to do for myself, you contribute to my fear and inadequacy. So
please listen and just hear me.

[Author Unknown.]

The first duty of love is to listen - Paul Tillich

Communication has to do with both speaking and listening, but the sad fact, however, is that everyone hears but
only few listen. But then, nature gave us one tongue and two ears so we could hear twice as much as we speak. It
takes nothing to speak, but listening would require every ounce of one’s maturity and self control.

Listening is principally the function of the mind. So if your mind isn’t at rest and your partner desires to discuss
something important with you, you could calmly explain to him or her that you would rather discuss later when
you are in a better state of mind so that you can pay attention and be able to respond accordingly. True listening,
in reality, is a sign of respect and an expression of love.

Whenever you meet with a human being, never think that you are looking at just a creature of logic but an
emotional being (this would help you a great deal). Hence, it is the duty of the receiver to listen through the
words to get the feeling(s) that is being expressed. He should aggressively listen through the words to get the
message. And this will require every ounce of his attention on the speaker. Because, though the words may come
from the mouth of the speaker, the message springs from the communicator himself. The listener must learn to
use more than his ears but also, his eyes, mind, heart, and even mouth when necessary – to ask questions about
an unclear Information. This he must do for the avoidance of assumption which could be very misleading.

Good listening means paying attention. You listen not only with your ears but with your mind and heart also.
You need to have your mind involved because sometimes you’ll need to translate what your partner (especially
the wife) is saying. Active listening involves listening through the words for the feelings being expressed. True
listening involves paying attention to what is not said as well as what is said. It means hearing the gap in the
information as well as the information itself.

Listening is an important way to show your wife you love her. And it also speaks volumes of a wife's respect for
her husband. Anything your spouse desires to discuss with you is of importance to them. Hence, it mustn't be
treated lightly. For a loving husband, tuning out while your wife is speaking isn’t an option. You are telling her
something when you don’t listen. You are announcing that you are not interested in what she has to say and to
her, that translates into “Your feelings don’t matter.” When you listen to what your wife has to say, she feels
loved and valued. And this helps reduce conflicts in the home. "When people feel understood emotionally," says
Gary Smalley, "they feel cared for." And besides, the first duty of Love is to listen.

Women are feelers. Men are thinkers (while to one degree or another, there could be variations based on the
individuals involved, the general tendencies usually hold true.) Hence, most times, their words are their
verbalized feelings rather than their thoughts. Hence the husband must learn to listen through the words to
hear the feeling that is being expressed. “If a husband can overlook the actual words his wife uses to express
herself," counselled Gary Smalley, "and instead actively pursues what she means, fewer arguments will take
place.”

You have to give your partner your full, undivided attention when they speak. This means a lot to them. If they
have to compete with the phone, TV or newspaper, they’ll doubt that you are really paying attention. If that
alone was the case, it would have been better; it’ll makes husband believe he's not respected and makes the wife
doubts her husband's love for her. SHE GAVE YOU HER HEART; YOU HAVE TO GIVE HER YOUR EARS! HE GIVES
YOU HIS RESOURCES, YOU MUST GIVE HIM YOUR ATTENTION.

When we talk, we only learn what we already know. When we listen, we have a chance to learn something new.
Listening offers us an opportunity to learn. A chance to know more about our spouse – their thought processes,
feelings, desires and expectations. It also aids bonding. Listening can also engender understanding between the
two parties and make each individual see things from the other’s perspective.

These basic tenets of effective communication set forth here are some nuts and bolts for use if you want to have
a fulfilling experience in your marriage.

BASIC LISTENING SKILLS


To become a better listener and increase your overall conversational ability, here are some basic rules:

 Keep Eye Contact: good listening simply means paying attention. And eye contact is one of the ways of
showing that you are attentive. Allowing your eyes to stray from one point to another while your
partner is speaking is both a sign of disrespect and disinterest. This doesn’t make for a healthy
relationship.
 Listen Without Interrupting: wait until your partner finish speaking before you reply. By not giving
another person chance to have their say, you are essentially telling them that you don’t really care about
what they are saying because what you have to say is more important. And this is a sign of pride and lack
of respect for your spouse. If you constantly interrupt your spouse, he/she may feel frustrated and
resort to silence which is not good for the relationship. To avoid interruption, wait for few seconds when
your partner has finished a sentence or when you think they have finished. If they don’t say anything
else after these few (3-4) seconds, you can start speaking. This rule will help you avoid speaking when
another person pauses in mid sentence. You should learn to identify the pauses – when you should
speak and those which signal when you shouldn’t speak.
 Pause before Replying: pauses don’t only aid the avoidance of inappropriate interruptions but also
help you to become a good communicator and a great listener. By pausing when your partner just
finished speaking, you signal to them that you’re deeply considering what they’ve said – and that shows
them that their words are important to you. It also allows you to think what you are going to say rather
than spouting off to say the first thing that comes into your mind, as a result, you’re more likely to say
something relevant and considerate rather than something inappropriate or offensive.
 Repetition: repletion makes it clear that you understand what’s been said and that you’re listening to it.
By repeating what your partner has just said – in your own words, you’ll give the impression that you
clearly understand him/her. This tells your partner that they are important and that what they’ve said
matters to you. One of the best ways to show a person that you’ve been listening and you understand
them is to reflect or paraphrase the content of their speech back to them. You could start your reflective
sentences with phrases such as – “I see what you mean..,” “ok, it looks like…” such words calms their
emotions, make them feel heard and understood, and also receptive to your reply.
Giving a quick summary of what a person has just said shows that you were listening to them.
 Acknowledge Feelings: for no reason should you condemn you partner’s expressed feelings. Emotions
can’t be classified as being right or wrong; it’s just a feeling, not a product of the intellect. Words such as,
“I understand how you feel..,” “if I were in your shoes, I’d have felt the same way too..,” “I’m so sorry
about that,” are good ways to acknowledge feelings. Never discount your partner’s feelings as
unnecessary.
 Responding (not necessarily replying) when your spouse speaks is the best proof that you have heard
what was said. When you ask him later in the day how that meeting he was worried about went, he
knows that you heard not only about the meeting but also about his concerns. When, for instance, your
wife tells you that red is her favorite colour and you buy her a red dress on her birthday that’s both a
proof that you heard her and that her feelings matter to you. This simple gesture of yours would go a
long way to tell your wife that you care about her and that she’s very important to you.
Actions are more significant than words – so says Gersham Bulkeley

THE PLACE OF UNDERSTANDING

A lady walked into a doctor’s office looking so gaunt and pale. At the sight of her, the doctor was shocked and
the following dialogue ensued:

Doc: What happened? Why are you looking this way? Hope you’ve been taking the three meals per day as I
instructed?
Lady: It must have been your handwriting; I thought you wrote three males per day.

HOW OFTEN MISUSED WORDS GENERATE MISLEADING THOUGHTS – HERBERT SPENCER

‘We often tell couples that almost all their conflicting conversations could be resolved if each partner would
seek to understand before being understood – in other words, if each would learn to listen (Lila Empson and
Shelia Rabe).

COMMUNICATION can’t be said to have taken place without understanding. Communication is essentially the
art of passing a piece of information across to someone. if the information is not passed across,
communication is yet to occur. hence, while speaking, we must try by all means to avoid unnecessary
complexity and indirect speech. Subtlety is the number one enemy of clarity.
Don’t expect your spouse to understand what you aren’t saying or what you say indirectly – unless, of course,
you’re married to a mind-reader. Assumption is the lowest level of knowledge. Avoid unnecessary subtlety by all
means. This is wrong because communication revolves around understanding and it can’t be said to have taken
place if the message is not comprehended. In other words, without understanding, communication loses its
essence. Don’t expect your spouse to understand what you aren’t saying or what you say indirectly – unless, of
course, you’re married to a mind-reader. Assumption is very misleading.. Avoid unnecessary complexity.

Put your desires, expectations and feelings into words, this would help your partner a lot to understand you. Do
this rather than speak in a foreign language and later get angry when he/she fails to decode your witty
expressions.

WHAT IS SAID vs WHAT IS HEARD

Without understanding, communication loses its essence. However, for there to be understanding during
communication, there must be active listening, direct speech, and questions when necessary. Someone once
said, ‘I’m only responsible for what I say, not what you hear.’ To an extent, this might be factual considering the
fact that a person’s past experiences, present circumstances, upbringing, academic background, and a whole lot
of things could have influenced the way a person perceives and comprehend things. For instance, during a
conversation, if you say to someone, " I don’t think that is right." If the person is such that his family members
and friends perceive him to be stupid and always tell him so, he’ll hear this from what you said – ‘You are
foolish,’ whereas, you only said you don’t think he’s right.

But then, we aren’t only responsible for what we say but also for what others hear. For instance, it is a known
fact that the tune of one’s voice carries more meaning than the actual words spoken. The tune of your voice, as a
matter of fact, is what gives meaning to the words that you speak.

Let’s consider this same sentence with inflections on different words to see how tone alters the meaning of
words:

The pen wasn’t taken by me - this implies that the speaker took something else but not the pen.

The pen wasn’t taken by me - the implication here is that though the speaker didn’t take the pen,
he’s aware of the person that took it.

Often, in real conversation, the meaning of a word does not lie in the word per se, but in the speaker. It is not
what you say that determines what the listener hears but how you speak. The tone of your voice, look of
your eyes, physical gestures etc are where the message lies. And they determine to a great extent what the
hearer hears. Your mouth is only one of the mediums of communication – and don’t think it is the major cause
you might be grossly mistaken.

More so, it is the duty of the communicator to choose the actual information to be communicated, the medium
or means that is suitable for the message to be passed across. If there’s a need to paint a picture, it must be done
in a way that gets that picture over. He is to decide the place that is conducive for the reception of his intended
message. He also chooses the tune of voice to be used and complementary gestures that aids his message, and
also the best time for it. If communication must be effective, these rules must be adhered to.
L I S T E N by K Hagin

This is by no means the case. In fact, it can be argued that…


 “Marriage is not something one tries on for size and then decides to keep, it is rather
something one decides with a promise and then bends every effort to keep,” so says a
professor of social thought at the University of Chicago, Leon Kass.
 In a successful marriage, there’s no such thing as one’s way, there’s only the way of the
both partners. ME
 Affection is responsible for nine-tenth of whatever solid and durable happiness there is
in our lives – C. S. Lewis

The best preparation for marriage is real friendship and it can only develop where there’s dialogue. Before you
can deeply love somebody, you must know them well; union of minds comes before union of hearts, and this is
the result of dialogue (Dr. Leonne)