Skills for Positive Communication in Marriage
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"Communicating openly and often is a lifeline for a marriage, especially when the husband and wife are in disagreement"
Ephesians 4:17-32
Proverbs 18:20-22
To have a great marriage, two things are very imporant: good conversation and effective conflict resolution. Though neither is an easy task, it is possible to develop these skills and improve your marriage.

In marriage, there are three common communication problems.

The first problem occurs when we don't understand how men and women communicate differently. A part of this has to do with the degree and the context of the communication. Men need to understand that, in general, women have a greater need for communication. In turn, a wife needs to understand that her husband needs to be able to trust her with his confidence in order for him to share openly.

Men and women also communicate differently based on their fundamental needs. A woman should speak to her husband with respect if she wants him to listen to her. A man needs to communicate security in the relationship if he wants his wife to hear him. For her to open up sexually, she needs to know that he cares and that he is there for her.

The second common problem with communication is having too few meaningful conversations. Often it's the attitude of the husband that results in a couple's communicating too infrequently. But sometimes other factors, such as stress, fatigue, or busyness, can interfere. Regardless, it's crucial that a husband and wife share often in conversation.

The third common problem with communication is having unresolved conflict. A couple with sensitive issues in their relationship will be hesitant to talk, because they don't want the conflict area to come up and result in another fight. As conversation becomes less frequent, walls are built and divisions occur.

This brings us to the five principles of conflict resolution:

First, allow your spouse to complain. Because of insensitivity, or insecurity, or defensiveness, a couple may not do well in discussing a problem one perceives in the other. Yet allowing your mate to voice a complaint is crucial to finding a solution.

Second, deal with problems daily. Ephesians 4:26 says "In your anger, do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry and do not give the devil a foothold." Not resolving problems quickly opens the door for satan to accuse your spouse in your thoughts. It kills positive emotions and allows anger to become unmanageable and depression and anxiety to set in.

Third, begin communication with humble affirmation, never threats. Say something like, "I love you and I'm committed to you, but I need to tell you...."

Fourth, listen carefully and patiently to what the other is saying. Don't interrupt or try to defend yourself. Communicate respect for their feelings in your body language and eye contact.

Fifth, reach an agreement. Talk it through in a kind and loving conversation. If necessary, agree to pray about it and discuss it later-but end your conversation with tenderness and affection-not anger. This may mean repenting and forgiving.
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