"The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place."
- George Bernard Shaw
Positive communication is vital to any relationship, and nowhere is this more evident than in marriage. When two different people commit their lives to each other, they can't hope to bond their hearts, minds and souls successfully except on the basis of solid mutual understanding.
In other words, they have to learn how to successfully communicate with one another, in both verbal and non-verbal terms. Communication is an on-going process, based on good listening skills as well as clear and honest self-expression (James 1:19). It involves openness and empathy -- a willingness to enter into the thoughts and feelings of another, to cry when they cry and laugh when they laugh.
This last point is especially important. Relationships are dynamic in the sense that change happens over time.In the context of marriage, this means that there will always be something new for you to learn about your spouse. No matter how much you know - or think you know- you'll never know it all.
Communication thrives on questions and curiosity. That's why it's important to be a "student' of your spouse - to continuously ask questions and update information. Couples who do this, especially during the busy childrearing years, find that it keeps them connected.
Remember, always act like you're trying to get a second date! Sometimes in marriage we forget that we need to pursue and "woo" our spouse. So dress up a bit. Be polite and open doors. Compliment one another. Be affectionate - hold hands, cuddle and steal kisses. Remember to protect your date night from conflict by cutting off any arguments and agreeing to talk about the issue at a later time.
Step 1: Go someplace different for dinner.
Instead of visiting the same familiar locations and eating the sameold food,pick somewhere new or try a different type of cuisine.
Step 2: Pick a date night activity that demonstrates curiosity about your spouse.
- If you have time in advance, plan your date around the famous ice-breaker game "Two Truths and a Lie". Each of you could write down several sets of three statements about yourselves, two of which are true and one of which is not. Exchange statements and see if your spouse can figure out which one in each set is not true about you.
- Even if you don't have time in advance, you can still create a "quiz" about yourself on-the-fly. You'd be surprised at how challenging such an activity might be, even with seemingly obvious questions such as: What is my favorite food? What is my favorite movie? What is my favorite color? See how many questions your spouse can answer before he or she gets tripped up! The idea here is not to embarrass your spouse for not knowing basic information. The purpose of this activity is simply to have fun rediscovering one another and re-learning information that you may have taken for granted.
Step 3: Relax and unwind
After your activity, find a quiet place for dessert or coffee to slow down and emotionally connect through good conversation. Be sure to keep your responses positive, uplifting and encouraging as you answer the following questions:
- What was your favorite part of the evening?
- What is the one thing you learned tonight that you didn't know about me before?
- What are some practical steps we can take to stay current with one another?
- What does it mean for us to be "students' of each other?
Step 4:Home sweet Home
As you drive home, spend time planning your next date. Also, think about additional ways you can be a "student" of your spouse in the coming week.Once you get home, however, it's up to you what happens next.Have a great final adventure!