We have an ongoing issue in the Barringer home. Our mailbox, periodically, gets mail for someone who lives 4 blocks from us. It’s not like it’s random mail from the neighborhood but from a home who possesses the same house number but on a completely different street. It’s kind of frustrating, but we do what we always do: go for a walk and drop it off in their box.
But it stirs up the question of “What have they received of ours?” The first thing on my mind is the 2-3 items we’ve ordered from Amazon that never arrived. Amazon has been great in giving us refunds, but, the point of ordering stuff is to actually have it delivered properly to the home.
(Side note: As I typed that, an Amazon notification literally popped up on m phone telling me about my next delivery. Here’s to hoping it actually comes to MY mailbox.)
Communication is the oil of the engine of marriage. As I’ve learned personally and painfully, you can have all of the parts and systems of a vehicle in place, but if you run out of oil, the car will seize and massive overhaul has to be done in order to be functional again (I miss my ’89 Chevy Blazer). So goes the communication in your marriage. In my judgement, most marriage issues are less about the actual “issue” and more about a breakdown in communication. And if proper, healthy communication is in place, the issue can be in place to be dealt with (if not solved because of clarity and understanding).
What does that have to do with today’s subject? Everything. As cliché as it may sound, communication isn’t about WHAT you say but HOW you say it. In other words, what I find happening between a husband and wife is, not a lack of information being given, but the delivery of that information. And dealing with “miss-delivery” is not just about missing necessary information from being delivered but healing the rifts cause by it.
Please understand: Just because you’ve “said something” doesn’t mean it was communicated properly. I hear from pre-marital couples all the time about this. I’ll ask them what they think the strength of their relationship is and, more often than not, communication is the first to come up. The most common reasoning: We talk all the time. But I submit again: talking doesn’t constitute that the information was delivered and received.
This may blow your mind but…Your spouse is not “you.”
In fact, he/she may be NOTHING like you. Not only is your spouse the opposite sex but could be your opposite in every way. From the make up of their personality to their background, you spouse (like mine) could be your polar opposite. So if that’s the case, care over the “delivery” of your communication matters just as much as the actual information being exchanged.
Don’t allow “time” to replace “tactic.”
There is, often, a tendency to take the people we are closest to for granted. Because we have had more “time” or history with someone, we allow a relaxed approach to our “delivery” in our communication. I get it. From my spouse, to my staff, to the congregation I lead, it’s so easy to depend upon the amount of familiarity built over time to replace the stewardship of my words, tone, and approach to communication.
It’s effortless to put the blame on somebody else and defer ownership over miscommunication to somebody else by saying “he/she should know what we mean.” What we are saying in that statement is, “I am refusing to own up to the fact that part of the communication issue at hand has the potential of being my fault.” Don’t allow the depth of “time” be permission to not be strategic in your delivery. Think about who you are talking and the best way to convey the information.
Make it “sugar-free” and digestible.
“Straight talk” or communication through candor may feel good to you, but may come off as unfeeling and/or crude to your spouse. “Raw” doesn’t necessarily mean “reliable communication.” What I find in my own life, this type of communication is unrefined and without restraint. And, because of familiarity, I can easily allow my wife to be the pin-cushion for that type of delivery.I get it, it feels good to get things off your chest. But there’s a difference between outward processing and being crass. Don’t use you’re not wanting to “sugar-coat” the truth with circumventing the thought process. “Straight talk” is easy because you don’t have to properly own up on processing of the info and/or the delivery. You just give it without the care of whether your spouse will be able to digest it. Just because you can say something doesn’t mean it should be said in a way that fits your flesh.
I’m not advocating for tough situations to be ignored, to skirt the issues at hand, or to dancing around a subject hoping your spouse happens to catch what you’re hinting at. But, to if I’m really going to steward (manage) my communication, then I don’t need to “curb” the honesty but I do need to make sure it is digestible/understandable and, therefore, in position to be properly processed by my spouse. Watching our words isn’t “watering down” the truth; It’s increasing the stewardship of it.
Delivery is an ongoing process of change.
There’s a rule for public speaking that says, “Know your audience.” The older I get, the more apt I can be for sticking to the same old way of doing things. Reviewing the “how” of delivery isn’t calling what you’ve done wrong. It’s just recognizing that how you’ve done it may not be effective in the place your marriage is at. As human beings, not only do we see the seasons of life change, we change in those seasons. And what got you through one season doesn’t mean it will fit for the next one.
If our model of life is the person of Jesus, then the “delivery” in our communication needs to model what He modeled: Servanthood.
- Does my spouse hear what I’m saying? How do I know that?
- Am I passive aggressive or just plain AGGRESSIVE with my delivery style?
- Do I give deliver something digestible?
Servanthood in marriage means that we don’t do what fits best for “me” but what facilitates the best for the “we.” To do that, takes careful inspection of how we are utilizing what God has entrusted in our care. And how we deliver communication fits into that category.
Love you all. Praying for husbands and wives today as you weigh out, not just WHAT you say but HOW you say it.
Thanks for letting me ramble…