Healthy communication has been our Family’s #1 point of contention and probably the one area that we have worked the hardest on in the last decade of our marriage. We so appreciate what Tracie and Elizabeth have to say about the needs of healthy communication in the home and the need to teach our children what healthy communication looks like.
Because communication is something that we have known for years is an issue, the chapter didn’t as much shed light on areas that could be fixed, but rather reinforced that the blood, sweat and tears that we have put into developing healthy habits are worth it. It was nice to have a chapter where we could say “Hey! We’ve been doing this!!”. Sometimes that little nudge that says “you’re heading in the right direction” is exactly what’s needed to keep the energy up, because, working on developing a strong spiritual home is HARD WORK but oh so worth it. (More on the fruits of our labor later.)
Now, please don’t view this as a bunch of “YAY! US!” back-slapping. We’ve decided to use this blog to pull the curtain back and show you just exactly what kind of issues we have and continue to work on in the area of Healthy Communication. Dad and Mom come from very opposite ends of the communication spectrum. Our issues were learned behaviors from our childhood homes that we decided long ago would no longer be commonplace in our home and that our bad habits would not be bad habits that we passed on to our children.
Our FAVORITE part of God’s Heart For Your Home, is the section of reflection questions at the end of each chapter. We have had the best (and sometimes very boisterous) conversations at the prodding of those little 6-8 questions at the end of each chapter. Please don’t skip them! After 10+ years of marriage and raising children there are still so so many things to be discussed and these questions serve as such a great prompt for really delving into which hurts and hang-ups prevent us from moving forward as a family. The questions help us attack each chapter with intentionality.
We have decided to answer each question, individually, and include them in this chapter’s blog. Not going to lie, this is more than a wee bit scary. This is the STUFF at the core of our marital STUFF. Our prayer is that our nakedness will encourage other spouses to have these hard conversations. Oh and did we mention that we had a wee bit of an argument in the middle of answering? The questions led each of us to stop, repent and forgive for some old habits we were allowing to encroach upon our progress.
So, here goes nothing!
1. What did you pick up—positive or negative—about communication while growing up in your home?
DAD: I didn’t come from a very communicative home but one of the very strong positives to come out of my childhood home was that we never ever went to bed without expressing that we loved each other. To this day, we still say “I love you” every time we speak. My childhood home communication style was also very “slow to speak”, there wasn’t a lot of spouting off of anger, however, the slow to speak could often become “no speaking” in regards to issues that should have been spoken about. I brought a passive aggressive tendency with me when we were married that I have spent years dealing with. Communication patterns are hard to break.
MOM: I came from a family that was quick to air grievances and quick to forgive. I always knew where I stood with each member and there wasn’t a lot of second-guessing if someone was upset about something. Conflict resolution was rather loud and passionate but there was always resolution. That being said, a quick temper and an ability to use very cutting and hurtful words was something that I brought into our marriage and something that I continue to work on. Like Dad, we always said that we loved each other. I am thankful that expressing love verbally is something we both brought into our marriage and we show to our children.
2. What attributes would you like to add to your communication style?
DAD: I would like to have a kinder tone of voice and be better at communicating when an issue needs to be addressed.
MOM: I truly lack sensitivity in my words when I am angry. I am often convicted of what I have said and would like to be able to stop what I say BEFORE I say it.
3. What would you like to remove from your communication style?
DAD: I would like to remove non-verbal displays of displeasure. The facial contortions, angry tone of voice. I have an ability to say that things are ok but my non-verbals give me away. I would like to exchange that with the ability to just say “XYZ is bothering me and I’d like to discuss it.”
MOM: Oh my temper!!! Our discussion over these questions revealed that while I may be good at communicating on a regular basis, those times that I let anger become the most memorable moments of my “communication style”. I really don’t want to be remembered as a quick tempered Mommy. The thought of that truly hurts my heart.
4. What are some of the rules in your home regarding “managing words?” Is there anything new you can implement?
DAD/MOM: Our rules have really been developed out of an acknowledgement of our weaknesses in this area. We focus on encouraging our children to be honest with their feelings, emotions and opinions. Our prayer has been that we would recognize them as individuals and honor who God created them to be. If one of our children are upset with a rule/punishment/perceived injustice, we want to know about it. We would rather have our oldest say “I am upset with you because of _________,” than to stifle it in and allow it to grow into resentment.
5. Are you a good listener?
6. What improvements can your family begin to make so your home has healthier communication?
DAD/MOM: We really feel that this chapter served as reinforcement that we are on the right track with our children. Our desire is that when our children are parents they will be able to say that, though they didn’t always agree with us, there was never anything they couldn’t talk to us about or express.