by Shirley Mozena
If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame. Proverbs 18:13 NASB
I was asked to give some Pearls of Wisdom at my granddaughter’s bridal shower a few weeks ago. I ended up sharing some of the things I wished I’d known before I married. The first concerned the importance and practice of good communication.
I’ve been widowed twice and married three times, but most of what I learned about communication came during my years with my first husband, the father of my children and grandfather to my grandchildren.
For those of you who don’t know my story, I was widowed twice. In my first marriage, Bill and I were married forty years when he died of complications of chronic Leukemia. I married a second time to Blair. We were married only seventeen months when he died suddenly of a brain aneurysm. Four years later, I met and married Jim, my current husband. God has blessed us with nearly nine years of marriage where we enjoy a large blended family.
It took 22 years for Bill and I to learn to communicate well. After seeing several marriage counselors, one recommended a communication class. We finally took one after years of arguing, fighting, and near-divorce. Communication can save a marriage? Yes—at least it was the ticket for us.
We learned to listen. First, we learned to allow the other person say what the problem was. Then the listener repeats what they heard. If the listener didn’t get it right, the speaker would repeat what they said. The listener would again attempt to repeat it. We were encouraged to keep repeating the two-step process until there was a clear understanding between us. It sounds so simple, yet the effect was profound. It saved our marriage.
Often in conversation, we listen half-heartedly while we are thinking about what we are going to say after the speaker is finished. Restating their perspective back to them breaks us of that habit, because we are focused on meeting the other’s need to be heard. Proverbs 18:13 tells us, “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame” (NASB). Both partners need to know that our perspective is heard and valued by the other.
James 1:19 (NLT) applies communication methods perfectly: “You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.”
After so many years of struggling and arguing, once we learned how to truly listen to each other, we actually enjoyed each other’s company again! I learned to trust Bill with my true feelings, honestly expressing them, as much as he trusted me. Listening is key to keeping a marriage alive.
This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).
About the author: Shirley Quiring Mozena is a writer, blogger, and national speaker for Stonecroft. She has written three books, Second Chances, Beyond Second Chances: Heartbreak to Joy, and recently published, Second Chance at Love: Navigating the Path to Remarriage. Her work has appeared in newspapers and magazines.
Join the conversation: How do you keep communication lines open in your relationships?