Recently I had a series of private phone sessions with a person who was very frustrated. Listen to how this person described their situation. I bet you’ll be able to relate to it.
This person said they felt trapped in their basement trying to communicate with their spouse via Morse Code. They said they were banging on the pipes trying desperately to be heard. They would bang on the pipes and wait for a response. Bang and wait…bang and wait…bang and wait. But each time they finished banging, there was silence. No matter how hard they banged and no matter how long they waited; their spouse never heard them.
Hi. My name is Mort Fertel, author of Marriage Fitness.
Are you trying to get heard? Do you feel ignored? Is your spouse not responding to your communication?
We live in an interesting time. With one click, you can communicate with anyone in the world. It’s easy, quick, and free. You even have options. If you don’t want to click, you could dial, beep, page, instant-message, or Fed Ex. It’s true. Your ability to communicate with the outside world has become increasingly easy. But my guess is that your ability to communicate with your spouse has become increasingly difficult.
The reason for this is that most people confuse INFORMATION communication with PERSONAL communication. Technological advancements give us all sorts of options to communicate information. But how do you feel the pulse of someone’s soul? How do you communicate the subtleties in your heart? You can’t text message that. You can have the latest and greatest in communication gadgets, but it won’t matter. PERSONAL communication is a whole different ball game. And it’s PERSONAL communication that determines the success or failure of your marriage.
I’m reminded of a scene from a Broadway play. A man and woman happen to meet on a train and engage in polite conversation. They were both headed home to New York after a day in New Haven, CT. After further discussion, they learned that they were going to the same building on Fifth Avenue. Lo and behold they discovered that they had the same daughter and lived in the same apartment. They finally discovered that they were husband and wife.
You know what’s killing marriages these days? EMAIL! More and more I’m seeing husbands and wives resort to email to communicate with each other. You want to do something tangible TODAY to improve your marriage? STOP EMAILING YOUR SPOUSE! Email is for INFORMATION. But in a marriage you’ve got to HEAR each other. And I don’t mean hear the sounds of each other’s words. You’ve got to be able to hear the silence between the sounds and interpret the unspoken meaning of a pressed lips or teary eyes. You’ve got to be able to hear the shapes and sounds in each other’s heart. You can NOT accomplish this via email.
And let me be clear about something; you can’t do it with communication techniques either. There’s no clinical communication therapy that can help you and your spouse think each other’s thoughts, feel each other joy, and cringe from each other’s pain. My 1-on-1 phone session schedule and the Marriage Fitness Tele Boot Camp are filled with casualties from traditional communication strategies and the usual marriage counseling approach. If you’re like most people with marriage trouble, you’ve been down that path and you know that it does NOT work.
Today my 4-year-old son came to me with a bruise on his leg. He was crying and I could see that it was black and blue. He said, “Daddy, I need a band-aide.”
I responded, “But it’s not bleeding.”
He said again, “Daddy, can you put a band-aide on it?”
I realized that my son’s perspective was that when something hurts a band-aide makes it better…even if it’s a bruise and not a cut.
So what does this have to do with communication in a marriage? Because most people think that if spouses aren’t hearing each other that communication techniques will solve the problem. But that’s like putting a band-aide on a bruise. It’s the wrong solution.
Communication techniques can help colleagues transmit INFORMATION clearly. Communication techniques belong in seminars that teach negotiation and sales. But you’re not trying to complete a transaction with your spouse; you’re trying to renew a relationship. I can almost guarantee you that your problem is not clarity; it’s concern. Ironically, communication techniques sometimes give people clarity that they don’t care what their spouse thinks or feels. They “got it,” but “it” doesn’t matter to them anymore.
How do you get back to the place where you and your spouse care again?
This is one of the things that’s unique about the Marriage Fitness approach to repairing a relationship versus traditional counseling. Most approaches to marriage success preach communication skills. But communicating effectively will NOT create love in your marriage. In fact, the correlation is the opposite. Creating love in your marriage paves the way for effective communication. I’ll prove it to you.
Think about when you fell in love. How was your communication? Good, right? In fact, when you’re in love, you communicate with the wink of an eye and you can finish each other’s sentences. And yet you haven’t known each other that long and you haven’t learned any communication techniques.
Then, years later, after getting to know each other inside and out, employing psychologically tested and proven communication strategies, and taking into account all the differences between Mars and Venus, you can’t get through to each other.
Listen carefully: Communication has very little to do with techniques or knowledge of each other. It has everything to do with the depth of connection between the communicators.
The question you should be asking is NOT, “How do I communicate effectively with my spouse.” The question you should be asking is, “How do I connect with my spouse again?” Once you reconnect, you won’t be sitting in silence in the basement. You’ll hear the sound of the pipes from above. It’ll be your spouse. You were heard.