You don’t have to say everything you think. I am certainly not advocating keeping secrets or not sharing your feelings with your spouse. But in our world of instantaneous communication, soundbites, and rapid-fire social media, we have been trained to believe that we have the right to comment on everything. Some people are even under the delusion that it is not only their right, but it is their obligation to tell other people what they think...about everything!
In marriage, there is an important balance. Without communication, a relationship will die. So it is critical that husbands and wives share what they are thinking and feeling with each other. But does that mean that we have to verbally express every thought?
Here are some thoughts on how to determine if you are participating in conversation or just providing commentary:
- If you have an incessant need to get the last word. Sometimes conversations don’t end because one spouse feels unheard, and is trying desperately to get the other’s attention. But sometimes the desire for the last word is born from a self-centered, self-importance that assumes you deserve to have the final authority on all matters.
- You operate under the false assumption that the only way someone hears you is if they agree with you. Spouses can (and at times should) disagree. Having our beliefs and worldviews challenged is how we grow and mature. Noisy commentary comes when we feel threatened by a different perspective, so we keep pounding the same points over and over.
- While humor is important in any relationship, an unending stream of sarcasm or flippant comments can indicate that the commentary needs to be muted. This is particularly true if the commentary is beginning to hurt your spouse’s feelings, or make him/her feel unappreciated or demeaned in any way.
Conversation is necessary, but not all commentary is beneficial. To achieve the balance, acknowledge to each other how you best communicate. In many relationships, one spouse may be more verbal than the other. There are also some people who process decisions and circumstances by talking through it out loud. If you mate knows how you communicate, it is easier to understand each other and discern between information that gives life and health to the relationship and noisy chatter.
And most importantly, make sure your communication is speaking blessing into each other’s lives, and centering you and your relationship on Christ.
Remember, without communication a relationship will die. But sometimes we can say so much more, by saying less.