Communication has much to do with the quality and the outcome of a marriage, whether it is a success or a failure. The statistics today show that, unfortunately, there are far more marriages that fail than there are those which succeed. One has to wonder how many of these marriages could have been saved if the couple had taken the time and made the effort to learn and practice some active communication together.
Active communication is not just talking casually back and forth, although that is at least a start for the couple who has become disconnected from one another. Active communication is much more involved than this and it is an exercise which helps to ensure that both parties are being heard and understood. This keeps the ears really listening and helps to avoid the misunderstandings that occur so often between the genders. And, it is a form of communication that can save a marriage that is looking at the potential of divorce.
Active communication is practiced as a way to discuss things that are important to the couple in a calm manner which allows both parties to speak and be heard. To begin the exercise of active communication, the party who has something to talk about needs to ask their spouse if it’s a good time for them to actively communicate. If they say no, the couple should set up a time that works for both of them, but if possible, the spouse should make time. If it’s a good time, they are ready to dig in.
The couple should find something small that they can pass back and forth, such as a pencil. The person who is speaking gets the pencil and when they are done, they pass it to their spouse. Rather than answering at this point, the spouse should repeat back what they heard spoken, starting with words such as, “So, what I hear you saying is that…” and ending with, “Is that right?” and then handing the pencil back to their spouse. If the spouse says that they have been correctly heard and interpreted, then they can reply when they have the pencil again. If not, the spouse speaking will start with the first step, possibly re-wording and/or clarifying and begin the process again. This will continue until the parties have been heard out and understood fully.
Active communication can take quite a bit of time in the beginning, but it is a way to get the couple really hearing and understanding one another. This is important to the health and well-being of a marriage. As the couple continues to practice actively communicating, it will become easier and easier to understand one another and they will find that they get to know each other better than they ever did before. In all likelihood, they will also be able to save their marriage from the devastation of divorce, as well, and that certainly makes it worth the effort.