COMMUNICATION TOOLS For Couples
Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. (James 1:19)
Are you having difficulty communicating with your marriage “partner” to the point where you’re not able to bridge your differences? Sometimes learning and using a few simple communication methods may help you to come to a better place of agreement and understanding with each other.
Below you will find several different communication tools that could help you in your marriage so you’re able to hear each other better when you really need to. (Hopefully they will also help you to become slower “to become angry.“)
Just like in a tool box you’ll find that you don’t use every tool every day. You’ll find the same for the communication tools that are listed below. But they sure can be handy when needed.
We encourage you to use whatever you find helpful with the situation you’re dealing with whenever it’s needed:
THE CREATIVE NUMBER TECHNIQUE:
(From the book, Men Read Newspapers Not Minds —by Sandra Aldrich)
When needing clarification on the importance of a matter to your spouse have your spouse point to how they really feel over a matter.
#1: “I really don’t want to do this.”
#2: “I don’t want to do this, but I’m willing to talk about it.”
#3: “I don’t care one way or another.”
#4: “I’d like to do this, but I won’t die if we don’t.”
#5: “Yes, this is very, very important to me.”
THE PENCIL METHOD:
(This comes from the book, Happily Ever After, written by Toben and Joanne Heim)
• Whoever holds the pencil gets to do the talking.
• The other person may ask clarifying questions but that’s all.
• Flip a coin and get started.
• Whoever has the pencil should try only to make feeling statements — “I feel this way when you …”
• After the person with the pencil has said all he or she has to say, pass the pencil.
A further insight from one of the authors of this method Toben Heim:
Question: Do you think couples should seek counseling for conflict?
Toben: This may sound too simple, but seek counseling when the pencil technique or its equivalent doesn’t work. If you’re trying to listen to each other but it just isn’t working, or if the issue is so hot that you’re simply unable to listen to each other, then it’s time to get a third-party mediator to help you work through it. Some couples may think it’s a sign of weakness to get that kind of help, but just the opposite is true. It’s a sign of strength. I have couples that come to me for help after 15 years regarding an issue they’ve struggled with for every one of those 15 years. And others come in after a month of marriage. Who do you think is better off?
THE FIFTEEN MINUTE TIME-OUT RULE:
(Explained by Joanne Heim, from the book, Happily Ever After)
• [My husband] Toben promises that he won’t say a word for 15 whole minutes.
• At that point I am able to calmly explain why my feelings are hurt as well as being able to listen and understand as Toben then explains his side of the story.
We don’t use the “Fifteen Minute Time-Out Rule” very much, but it helps me immensely to know it’s there if I need it. And it saved a lot of hurt feelings and words that couldn’t be taken back during our early years of marriage.
I hate to admit it, but when I start feeling backed into a corner, I lash out. I say mean, hurtful, and ugly things that I end up regretting. And as Meg Ryan’s character said in the movie, You’ve Got Mail, there’s no reason to say those kinds of things to someone —no matter what he’s done (or what you think he’s done) to deserve it.
Paul said much the same thing in 1 Thessalonians (as interpreted in The Message):
“And be careful that when you get on each other’s nerves you don’t snap at each other. Look for the best in each other, and always do your best to bring it out” (1 Thessalonians 5:15).
The H.A.L.T. METHOD
of Dealing with Issues:
We aren’t sure who originally came up with this method, but it’s a good one to consider when you have anything important to discuss. TIMING can be essential in having a spouse truly hear what you are trying to communicate. The H.A.L.T. Method:
H.A.L.T. yourself from trying to talk about anything important or that could cause conflict when either of you is:
If either of you is experiencing any of these … don’t say it yet! You have less success of things going in a good direction with what you are trying to discuss. Ask the Lord to show you a better time and the best way to say it.
H.A.L.T. times are troublesome in that they can close off a partner from truly hearing and listening to what you are really trying to communicate.
THE “3 PLUS 3” RULE
“‘Often when we get flustered, we don’t listen to each other,’ Dr Steve Stephens said. ‘And then even when we start to listen we interrupt the other person.’
“He suggests that couples:
• Flip a coin to determine who will talk first.
•The winner of the coin toss then has three minutes to talk without being interrupted by the other person.
•At the end of those three minutes, the other person has three minutes of uninterrupted time to respond.”
(For more, please click into the CBN.com article, Fight Fair in Marriage)
The S.T.O.P. STRATEGY:
(This strategy came from the article, My Sick Husband Got Better and Our Marriage Got Worse, written by Sondra Forsyth, published in the Ladies Home Journal Magazine Lhj.com, October 2008.)
The Stop Strategy:
• STOP: “Halt the conversation when you start to get uncomfortable with the way it is going.”
• TIME OUT: “Physically separate for 30-60 minutes in order to calm down.”
• OWN YOUR OWN PART: “Take responsibility for your role in creating the problem instead of attacking your partner or defending your position.”
• PEACE OFFERING: “After you come back together and talk about what you each learned in your time apart, seal the deal with a kiss or a promise to change a behavior.”
To read what this principle involves, we will link you to the web site of Peacemakers Ministries. Please click onto the link below to do so:
PEACEFULLY RESOLVING ANGER:
(From the book, The Other Side of Love, by Dr Gary Chapman)
On a 3X5 card, write the following words:
“I’m feeling angry right now… Is it a good time to talk”
Put this card on the refrigerator door or some other easily accessible place. The next time you feel anger toward your spouse, run for the card. Holding it in your hand, read it to your spouse as calmly as you can.
• If it’s not “a good time to talk?” Then set a time to talk.
• At the appointed time, begin the process of seeking explanation and resolution of the issue that stimulated your anger.
…When you sit down to discuss the issue, begin by saying, “I know that I could be misunderstanding this and that’s why I wanted to talk with you. Let me tell you what I am feeling and why. Then if you can clarify the situation, please do so because I need help in resolving this.”
Such a beginning creates a non-threatening atmosphere in which to discuss the event that stimulated your anger.
MAKING AN ANTI-DIVORCE CONTRACT
To put this contract together, it would be helpful if you read a Liferelationships.com article written by Michael Smalley. In it, he explains the reasoning behind this principle and how to put this type of contract together. To read this article, please click onto the link provided below:
If you have additional tips you can share to help others in this area of marriage, or you want to share requests for prayer and/or ask others for advice, please “Join the Discussion” by adding your comments below.