Monday, December 2, 2013

Healthy Relationships= communication

One day last week I noticed that my oldest daughter was distraught.  I figured she might have a case of the jet-lag blues or that she was just missing her Hawaii family, so I asked her.

"What's up?"

I just don't like it when you and Daddy argue.

"Were we arguing?"  

You know.. you were talking about money and such..

"Oh! That! We were not arguing.  He was just wrong, and I had to tell him.  We're good now."

What?  That kind of talking stresses me out.

"Oh.. that is what healthy communication looks like.  You should get used to it."

Healthy Communication.  What is it? and What does it look like?

I grew up somewhere between the Leave it to Beaver  and the Jeffersons era.

The Beaver era was the generation of non-verbal dissentions.  Everybody looked happy and no one even acknowledged that disagreements were there.  I am assuming passive agressive patterns emerged in this era.

The Jeffersons was the era of aggressive communication-- everyone said or yelled everything to each other.

While the Leave it to Beaver model of communication may seem a tad outdated for the majority of people, there would be a small group of Christians who would take this as the golden standard, particularly in the area of communication.

There are some Christians who favor this  model so strongly that it is impossible for healthy communication to emerge--even within the context of a husband and wife.  In this model, the husband has all of the ideas, and the wife always agrees with them.

This model would be great if it were not for the small detail of God creating women with brains.   A Brain in a woman is  a particular nemesis to the tidy system of non-communication models.

So, what is healthy communication anyway?

It is simply an environment in which all individuals feel free to express their honest opinions without fear of shunning or emotional abuse or any type of negative reprecussion.

Yes, this can even happen in a husband and wife relationship.  No one individual should have the market on opinions in a family.  No one person should be the dictator.

The agreeable factor of each person needs to be carefully evaluated.

Let's just face it.  Sooner or later, a peace-maker emerges in every relationship.  This is the person who is most likely to give in, take the blame for, apologize first.. you name it.. just to make for peace in the relationship.  This peacemaker is carrying more than their share of the burden of the relationship, and their agreeable factor is probably too high.

If you do not take into account the agreeable factor in a person, you won't really know how they feel about something.  When they finally do break down and are "pushed to their limit" and give up being agreeable, it will seem like it is raining venom from the sky.  It will seem like this person has become a new individual all of a sudden, even though those feelings were there all along.

When my husband and I started really communicating, and I mean really communicating.. both of our agreeable factors were at about 30%.    Of course, we've never sat down and had a discussion about who was being more or less agreeable or anything.  It wasn't so formal as all of that.  No.  It was just that over the course of time, the more agreeable party on the team decided to be more honest than agreeable..  (are you ready for this??)

for the good of the relationship! 

If you actually care about the relationship, you will stop this fake peacemaking and have it out once in a while.  Real peace in a relationship is just that-- it's real!

But keep these things in mind...


Expressing your hurts

Confessing your own faults

should be done in the spirit of:



comforting others at the same time.

Letting the tension build, being passive aggressive, giving silent treatments, running away from real problems or just ignoring your own pain.. is NOT healthy communication.

Learn how to communicate.  It is one of the greatest gifts you'll give yourself!


gabisunshine said...

I love this! Its a skill we have a long way still to grow in, but we've already experienced some consequences of poor communication (being overly agreeable, followed by the venom rain - great analogy btw). I think honest, respectful communication is probably the most important skill a couple can learn.

Laura Santos said...

So good! Thank you. I love your definition. I will have to write it on my head, and hand and heart and help my children to feel safer in communication.

Jane said...

My husband of 43 years and I rarely argue or have it out - but last night was the exception. We've been under a lot of stress lately and things had to be said. Thank you for acknowledging that it's OK and even healthy to let it out now and then - as long as you follow the rules.