I have come to believe that great communication or the lack of it is one of the most important factors in whether or not a marriage will survive and even in saving a marriage. Yes, trust is also at the top of the list, however, over and over I’ve seen where trust is broken after communication starts breaking down. Let me give you a real-world scenario:
Mary loves her new husband, Bob, with all her heart. Yes, it bothers her a little bit when Bob drops his dirty socks on the bedroom floor, but she doesn’t say anything — she doesn’t want something insignificant to cause a rift in their otherwise great relationship.
Fast-forward 13 years.
Mary has been biting her tongue for 13 years. Every time she picks up Bob’s ^&*%&^ socks, she curses silently to herself. Finally one day after difficulties at work and with the kids, when Bob takes off his socks, Mary EXPLODES! The ensuing argument quickly becomes extremely heated, and both Mary and Bob are angry for days.
The problem wasn’t that Mary didn’t communicate effectively today, the problem is that she’s been holding back for 13 years, and now instead of just working on communication, she’ll likely be working on saving a marriage.
We all have things like that.
It could be something that our spouse does that irritates us. It could be a fear or even a dream that we;ve never told our spouse. Sometimes we hold back because of uncertainty of how they’ll react. Sometimes it’s because we’re pretty certain of exactly how they’ll react.
The truth is, however, that every time we keep something to ourselves, it adds to the distance in our marriage. Eventually this distance can make things feel like “he just doesn’t understand me anymore” or “we don’t have anything in common anymore.”
This distance can lead to a lack of overall intimacy, which includes physical intimacy as well as emotional intimacy. This can lead one or both partners to look elsewhere to fill their needs.
All of this from a pair of socks (not really, but something as simple as that can play a big role).
How can you keep from falling into this trap?
Saving a marriage – open and honest
First, when saving a marriage, your marriage must be built on a foundation of open and honest communication. That doesn’t mean that you always have to tear your husband down, but rather you have to be completely honest with your feelings. For example, had Mary mentioned to Bob at the start of their marriage that having a messy bedroom makes it hard for her to relax enough to sleep at night, he likely would have made the effort to start picking up his socks. It would have been even more effective if she’d brought it up during a moment of closeness — almost like she was confiding in him.
Likewise, men, if your wife asks how she looks in an outfit she’s trying on, don’t say, “the pants make your rear look big,” even if it’s true. It would be just as honest and much more loving to instead suggest something like, “I think you look much better in this style.” I know the cliche is that this question is a trap, but the truth is, we really do want to know how we look.
Saving a marriage – a great plan
If your marriage feels like you are two roommates rather than husband and wife, to start saving a marriage you must start working on your communication immediately. It will be a tough road, but this is the only way to start repairing the rift.
For some great advice on effectively communicating, even in the most troubled marriages, I highly recommend Dr. Lee Baucom’s book, Save the Marriage. His book can help you begin to build bridges that can restore the love you once had (or even the love you wished you had) and can give you a plan towards saving a marriage.
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