A recent poll of 100 mental health professionals found that communication problems were cited as the most common factor that led to divorce (65 percent), followed by couples’ inability to resolve conflict (43 percent). Those statistics are no surprise to Grant R. Hasty, CEO, Counselor and founder of Renewed Life Christian Counseling Center.
“In my years of counseling married couples, communication problems are at the top of the list,” he says. “Often times people are quick to forget the vows they made on their wedding day. When you stand before God and promise to love, honor and cherish your spouse until death do you part, that should mean something.”
Hasty believes that when men and women realize they communicate differently, they are making an important first step in learning how to resolve conflict and understand each other’s feelings. “Women will use verbal and nonverbal language, while men will most often just use their words. The secret is to understand how your spouse communicates, and listen carefully to what they are really trying to say.”
When couples realize that no one is perfect and there will always be a disagreement or two down the road, it makes the communication and understanding process go 100 percent smoother. “One of the most powerful concepts I have see in changing the way couples communicate is understanding soft emotions vs hard emotions. If a couple commits to never using the hard emotions and only soft emotions in ALL their communication, even when they disagree it will transform their marriage,” says Hasty.
Hasty offers some tips for married couples to help them learn to communicate more effectively:
- Listen to each other – When your spouse is talking, make sure you give them your undivided attention (and put down that Smartphone!).
- Keep calm – Only use soft emotions of kindness, gentleness, show love, patience, peace. Never use hard emotions for there is no reason to yell, rant and rave when you are having a disagreement with your spouse. This will just lead to the other person responding in the same manner, both will become defensive and in a few moments, chaos will continue to escalate.
- Think of the other person – Whenever you are having a disagreement, try putting yourself in the other person’s shoes for a few minutes. Often times this will help you understand where your spouse is coming from, and what they need from you.
- Make sure you are on the same page – Often times when there is a disagreement between married couples, they assume their spouse understands what they are trying to convey. But in reality, the exact opposite may occur. If you do not understand what your spouse is trying to say, calmly ask them to please clarify it.
- Use a different communication method – Some people find it easier to write down their feelings and frustrations than verbalizing them. If that is the case, take a few moments and send an e-mail or write a note to your spouse. In some cases this makes the entire communication process a breeze!
- Take five – Or ten, or fifteen minutes and walk away. Time-outs are good. Make sure you time out has a clear time-in. If you find yourself getting nowhere and you are frustrating each other, take a break. Revisit the communication issue when each of you has had time to think and breathe.
“Effective communication is essential for a successful marriage,” says Hasty. When you learn how to communicate, everyone is a winner.”
Renewed Life Christian Counseling Center exists as a ministry to provide professional, faith-based, Christian counseling to all of Delaware and surrounding states in order to address mental, emotional, and spiritual health needs. They are trained to provide counseling services to children and their families in need of help around all school needs. They believe that solid professional mental health practices, integrated with clear Biblical Christian principles, will help people be restored to healthy relationships with God, self and others. It is their mission to help people live out the meaningful abundant life that God has designed for them to live weather at home, school or in place of employment. For additional information, please visit rlccc.org or call 302-464-0515.