“Words are only painted fire; a look is the fire itself.”
Communication in a marriage is essential to a lasting relationship. Most people think that the telling of each other’s feelings is what communication in a marriage is all about. Well, I’m here to tell you it is not. The “feelings” happen before the marriage. The dreams, plans of what will be, and getting to know each other happens before the wedding day.
Continuing communication of what is happening every day is a challenge to most. It’s like my husband told me early on in our marriage when I asked him why he didn’t share his feelings with me anymore. He said, “I did—do—I married you. I tell you every day how much I love you and what you mean to me. Sometimes you just don’t listen or even notice.”
He asked me why I asked him that.
“Well,” I said, “it’s because we used to talk about our feelings and future plans all the time. I don’t think we communicate enough.”
He laughed. His response was, “Really?” He walked away telling me to think about it.
I felt like he was brushing me off. I went for a walk, a little frustrated. It would be nice to hear how he feels. It would be nice once in a while for him to initiate the conversation about what he thinks or how his day went. When I came back from my walk, I was ready to explain why I needed to hear it, that I wanted him to talk about his day, how he feels about the things that are happening, and so on.
I walked up the driveway into the back yard where he was sitting on the deck. He asked me to join him. He put down the book he was reading and said, “Every day I tell you I love you, that I think you are beautiful, and how lucky I feel to have you in my life. I tell you when I call that I can’t wait to be home with you. That it’s hectic here and I just can’t wait to be home. I tell you that you are a great mom and I’m proud of your accomplishments. You don’t listen to me. I know you love me by what you say and by the things you do for me and for our family. You hear me, but you don’t listen.”
Without saying, “you’re right dear,” I smiled, nodded and said thank you. He went back to his reading, and I went into the house.
I got caught up in what I thought communication meant. It’s not like when we were dating. We talked about everything: our dreams, the past, different stories, our jobs, what we wanted, and what we planned for the future. We became best friends, and we came to the conclusion that we wanted the same things.
Jeff and I have been together for twenty-four years, twenty married. We have three beautiful children that are now almost grown. Our communication has not stopped; we have actually reached the point where we just know. We never go to bed without saying we love each other. Even our disagreements are a form of communication. It’s what and how often you disagree or argue that should raise concern.
What do we talk about? Other than children and bills, we talk about whatever is happening or has happened. We talk about future travels, what-ifs and if-onlys, life, books, movies, shows, growing old, friends, friends’ children, food, family members, you know, just stuff. Sometimes we sit in the same room for hours without saying a word. It’s a mutual feeling that quiet time is good.
We can walk quietly holding hands. You know what? That’s ok. There are several ways to communicate. Find a way to communicate with each other, a way that works for your relationship. If you feel the need to be reassured, then you’re either not paying attention or the communication has stopped.
Communication is essential. Just remember it’s not always what you say, sometimes it’s the way you say it.
Contributed by Lisa Gerard
Lisa Gerard offers core-strengthening sessions daily. Strengthening sessions are non-weight bearing exercises designed specifically for the individual. Call for pricing. Contact Lisa through Marriage Chaplain for more information: Pastor.2@MarriageChaplain.com or by phone: 513.853.6180.
Problem Prevention / Problem Eradication in Blended Families
“Before we married, his kids and mine seemed to get along fine. So did my husband and I when we talked about how to raise them,” she said to me over the phone.
“Now his kids squabble with mine. And they often refuse to listen to me or accept my discipline. And I know my kids do the same to him,” she continued. “He and I are at our wits' end. We can't even agree between ourselves what to do with the kids! I'm starting to be afraid that getting married was a mistake.
“I don't know what to do… ” she repeated as her voice trailed off into a troubled silence.
I responded, in a gentle voice.
“You know, you are not alone. It is quite common for blended families to go through an adjustment period. And you are getting those issues on top of all the stresses every set of parents encounters while raising children. So please don't feel defeated or hopeless. Most of the time a little outside support and information can get you past the difficult part of moving into marriage.
“It just happens I know a secret weapon which is designed just for blended families. It works well for blended families like yours, which are struggling to find a new working model,” I said. “This secret weapon actually has a phone number to call, so you can put it to use so your kids and you and your husband can get past this trouble spot. Just call 513 231 6630.”
Because this mother lives in Southwest Ohio, I was telling her to call Beech Acres Parenting Center. Beech Acres offers a wealth of support for parents, their kids, and kids-and-parents together. Their goal, as I understand it, is to strengthen marriages and strengthen families. Abbreviated from their web site, here are some of the types of programs they offer:
– Programs to strengthen relationships and marriages
– Training classes to help parents
– Parent coaching
– Private counseling for parents and for children
– Training and support for first-time mothers
– Mediation Services between child and parents
– and many more.
Beech Acres also provides this support to any family which is seeking skills and knowledge to improve the family experience and help their children experience a happier life.
Their website is www.BeechAcres.org. The phone, again, is 513 321 6630.
If you live in another area, you might check with Beech Acres for a referral to an organization in your area.
What happened to the distraught mom? She called recently to tell me that their kids are in a therapy group with children from other blended families. I gather they can talk about their feelings, and also learn some better ways to participate in a family. Mom and dad have attended parenting workshops and are also seeing someone to help them strengthen their marriage. She says that, even after the few sessions everyone has had so far, the family situation has really improved.
Visit Beech Acres on the web at http://www.beechacres.org/ or give them a call at (513) 231-6630.
A general invitation from Pastor Eastman
Any time you think that some one-on-one conversation might be useful in strengthening your marriage, contact me. We know many counselors and healers who provide great support to couples, and it is my pleasure to help you connect with someone who is a good fit to help you move forward in your loving and working relationship. Calling me usually gets a quicker response: 513 853 6180, but e-mail: Pastor@OurChaplain.com or text: 513 703 8196 will also work. —Pastor Brian Eastman