Participants: Willie Oliver, Elaine Oliver
Series Code: MGH
Program Code: MGH000062
00:30 Welcome to Marriage In God's Hands.
00:32 I'm Willie Oliver, Director of Family Ministries
00:34 for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America.
00:37 I'm Elaine Oliver, Willie's partner in ministry
00:39 and a Marriage and Family Consultant
00:41 for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America.
00:44 We're delighted you can join us today.
00:46 Communication is the life blood of every healthy relationship.
00:53 Today, we're going to be talking about communication in marriage.
00:56 We're calling this segment "Communication 411".
00:59 What's the 411, what's the information on communication?
01:03 And as we go through this segment, we will talk about
01:06 important dynamics that take place in marriage
01:09 and how we can capitalize on them, how we can grow
01:14 and become better spouses and create an environment of support
01:19 of happiness, of joy because we want to give honor
01:24 and glory to God.
01:27 Well, communication certainly is the life blood because if we
01:29 don't communicate with each other, then we can't convey
01:32 to one another that we appreciate each other,
01:35 that there's something not going well in the relationship.
01:37 So it's really important that we learn how to communicate well.
01:42 But unfortunately, in so many relationships
01:45 we don't communicate well.
01:46 And one of the things that we often do in our relationships
01:50 is that we use words that are destructive to the relationship.
01:54 And we need to always remember that our words can either
01:58 uplift the relationship or the other person,
02:01 or it can degrade the relationship.
02:03 And so, let's take a look at what the word of God has to say
02:07 in Psalm 19:14.
02:18 It is amazing that scripture is chock-full of information
02:23 and directives and principles about how God wants us to live.
02:28 "Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart... "
02:33 What the psalmist here is saying and what it conveys to us as
02:38 the people of God, those of us who want to be one with God,
02:41 who want to be one with our mate,
02:43 that the words that we speak, but it goes beyond what we speak
02:48 what we say, the meditations of my heart.
02:51 In other words, what I'm thinking about.
02:53 If I think good thoughts, then I'll say good words.
02:57 And so, we have to begin with the thought life.
03:01 What am I thinking about my mate?
03:03 What am I thinking about my world?
03:05 What am I thinking about my family?
03:07 And if I'm thinking something that can give
03:10 honor and glory to God, then perhaps I can allow that
03:14 to come out of my system, to come out of my mind
03:18 and into the space so I can bless someone else.
03:21 "Let the words of my mouth... "
03:24 So good communication is very important in a relationship.
03:29 Especially relationships that are going to be strong,
03:33 that are going to be healthy.
03:34 It's important that we learn to communicate well.
03:36 We can say then, that communication might be like
03:39 the oil in a machine.
03:40 It keeps everything running smoothly.
03:42 One of the things that I often, unfortunately, don't pay
03:46 close attention to is the oil in my car.
03:50 But I know very quickly when the oil needs to be changed
03:54 because the car certainly will tell me
03:56 that it needs to be changed.
03:57 And usually it needs to be changed
03:59 long before the car tells you.
04:00 If you don't wait until the car starts telling you
04:03 then you're engine is going to last longer.
04:07 I usually like to say to people, every 3000 miles or
04:11 every 5000 miles depending on the car you're driving.
04:14 And that's not something that's going to come to you
04:17 just because it's happenstance.
04:20 That's something you're going to have to plan on.
04:22 It means you need to be intentional.
04:23 It means you need to pay attention to when your car
04:26 got an oil change so that you are watching carefully
04:30 when it's going to change again.
04:32 That's a great metaphor then.
04:33 Because what you're saying is that we shouldn't wait
04:36 until things go bad to try to communicate.
04:39 We should be communicating every day.
04:41 Now sometimes communication is a little difficult
04:44 and so we need to learn how to communicate well
04:48 and there are many ways in which we can do this.
04:50 Another way that we can describe communication
04:54 is like blood circulation.
04:56 If you're sitting with your legs under you for too long
05:01 your limbs might go to sleep.
05:04 And then you don't feel them too well and it's hard to get up
05:07 and walk because there's just not enough blood
05:11 in your legs, in your limbs.
05:12 And because there's not enough blood in your limbs,
05:15 they tingle, they feel weak.
05:18 And so, communication is like that.
05:22 If the blood isn't circulating then your
05:24 organs don't work well.
05:26 So that's another great metaphor for our own relationships then.
05:29 If we don't communicate well, then we
05:32 cut off our relationship.
05:34 We cut off the smooth functioning of our relationship.
05:39 The life blood of our relationship.
05:42 And we know if a living organism is going to do well,
05:46 it has to have the flowing of blood to each organ.
05:51 Or if we don't do so, here's what happens.
05:54 I spoke just a little while ago about
05:56 cutting off the circulation.
05:59 But if we allow that circulation to be cut off for too long,
06:02 guess what happens.
06:04 Those organs no longer work.
06:07 They atrophy, they rot.
06:10 They quit working because there hasn't been enough
06:13 blood supplied to them.
06:15 So good communication is like that.
06:16 Unless you are communicating well and doing so in a way that
06:21 is nurturing and giving life, as it were, to the organism,
06:25 pretty soon that relationship shrivels up and dies.
06:30 Thus in marriage then, we need to be consistently and
06:35 intentionally talking about the areas of our relationship
06:38 such as parenting, spirituality, maybe our finances we need to
06:44 discuss regularly.
06:45 Any area of our relationship.
06:47 Our in-laws, how do we handle that?
06:50 Where are we going to take vacation?
06:52 So if we're consistently talking about the major issues
06:55 of our relationship, or if we don't talk about them
06:59 then our relationship will deteriorate.
07:02 Yes, indeed.
07:03 All of these issues are so parallel
07:07 to the metaphor of the body that we've been talking about.
07:10 That the body is interconnected, and certainly what's flowing is
07:15 that blood to give life.
07:17 When you quit talking about a particular issue
07:20 because something happened in the relationship,
07:23 we had differences.
07:25 It goes back to what we spoke about in Genesis 2.
07:28 Back when Adam and Eve were in the garden and
07:32 all of a sudden things started going the opposite way.
07:36 They hid, they covered themselves.
07:39 Why did they cover themselves?
07:40 Because they were different.
07:42 We do that in relationships and we do that in communication.
07:46 When we have different thoughts about particular things
07:49 then we keep our feelings to ourselves.
07:51 And when we do so, we no longer communicate on that issue.
07:54 And as we go along the different topics of our lives together,
07:59 the less we talk about them, the less life our relationship has.
08:03 It's important for us to understand that the better our
08:08 communication, the greater our intimacy with one another.
08:12 And we've spoken about creating oneness in our relationship
08:16 and experiencing true oneness.
08:18 And communication is one of those vehicles that help us
08:23 on this road to intimacy, the road to oneness.
08:26 So we need to learn how to communicate, but as you said,
08:29 so often it becomes difficult, for whatever reason it is,
08:36 it becomes difficult for us to communicate.
08:38 And we may feel bashful or we may feel fear of rejection.
08:46 And so we don't share and we don't communicate
08:48 because we're afraid of how it might be perceived
08:51 by the other person.
08:52 What happens when we have good oil in our system,
08:57 in the car, is that the engine doesn't knock
09:02 and there are no squeaks
09:03 because all the parts of the organism are working well.
09:09 When you don't have that, you do have the knocks,
09:12 you do have the squeaks.
09:14 You don't have the car, if you will, driving well.
09:19 You could break down at any moment, and you can break down
09:24 in inadvertent places.
09:26 The same thing happens in marriage when the levels of
09:30 communication are not good.
09:32 When they're not good, there are not good feelings
09:35 between the spouses.
09:36 When they're not good, there's miscommunication,
09:39 the children suffer.
09:40 Somebody doesn't get picked up at school on time.
09:42 Somebody makes it to church late.
09:44 Somebody doesn't do what they're suppose to do.
09:47 So what do we do with this communication so that
09:50 we can do it the way God wants us to do it?
09:54 Well, there's specific skills that we can learn on how to
09:57 communicate well in marriage.
09:58 And one of the things we have to learn how to do
10:01 is how to give our partner our undivided attention.
10:04 Turn off the TV, put away whatever it is, the computer.
10:08 Whatever it is that we're working on.
10:10 And we've got to give our partner our undivided attention
10:13 because when we give someone our undivided attention,
10:16 it invites them to share with us.
10:19 If you're trying to speak with me and I'm doing
10:22 five other things, then I am giving you the impression that
10:26 I'm really not interested in what you're saying.
10:28 And that certainly is one of the ways in which we
10:32 restrict communication.
10:35 That usually tends to happen in marriage.
10:38 We've said earlier on that none of us are perfect.
10:40 And because we're not perfect, we're bound to do something that
10:44 hurts the other person, that the other person misinterprets
10:47 or that we said inadvertently not knowing that it was hurtful.
10:51 So the longer we stay in a relationship,
10:53 the more opportunities we have to do it wrong.
10:56 But it also gives us more opportunity to get it right.
11:00 And so, I think that one of the important things about marriage
11:05 is that couples, husbands and wives, need to be intentional
11:09 about finding out what is it that their
11:13 spouse responds to well.
11:15 What language, what metaphors, what tone of voice?
11:20 We come from different families of origin where the level of
11:24 sound is different.
11:26 In some families, they speak with loud voices.
11:29 In other families, they speak in hushed tones.
11:31 If we have two individuals married to each other
11:33 and one of them came from the family where it was very loud
11:36 and it was ok, but now they come together,
11:38 all of a sudden the person who comes from the family
11:40 where loudness was not a good thing,
11:43 that person is taken aback.
11:45 So, husbands and wives need to get to the place where they
11:49 begin to understand each other better, communicate
11:53 their customs from their families of origin
11:56 so that they can create their new reality, their new family
11:59 and agree on the rules of engagement.
12:03 That way, the communication is what it needs to be.
12:06 Absolutely, and as you talk about affirming one another
12:10 and being kind to one another, we really need to learn how to
12:13 praise one another, to bring out the best in the other person,
12:16 to talk about what is it that I appreciate about you.
12:19 So all of this is laying a foundation
12:22 for good communication.
12:23 When I say to you that I appreciate you,
12:27 that I really think that there are great things about you,
12:30 then it opens the road for us to have
12:33 clear and open communication.
12:35 So we're back to that text that we started with in this segment.
12:38 "Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart
12:43 be acceptable in thy sight
12:45 oh Lord, my strength and my Redeemer. "
12:48 I want to honor God.
12:50 I want to honor my mate, I want to honor my family.
12:52 So the language I use, the tone I use, the attitude I have
12:57 needs to be one that will affirm, will elevate,
13:00 will support, will give praise, and bring comfort
13:04 to the loved ones in my home.
13:06 It is wonderful to understand that God has all of these
13:08 principles in scripture.
13:10 And if we pay careful attention to them, we can
13:14 operationalize them in our own marriages
13:17 and bring the joy and the happiness and the peace
13:21 that God wants to see in each of our homes.
13:24 Well, we're going to take a break right now
13:26 but we're coming right back so stick around
13:27 and join us again right after the break.
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14:11 Welcome back to our topic on communication.
14:14 We've titled this "Communication 411".
14:17 And what we're trying to share with you is how we can
14:21 increase intimacy in our relationship by
14:24 strengthening our communication skills.
14:26 So before the break, we started talking about certain skills
14:29 that we can use in healthy communication,
14:33 strengthening our communication, if you will.
14:35 One of the things that we said was that we needed to
14:38 give our spouse our undivided attention.
14:41 That it's really important that as we begin to communicate,
14:46 if there's something that we need to say,
14:47 that we put aside anything
14:52 that might block, that might be a barrier to good communication.
14:55 So for instance, if my spouse is speaking to me and says,
14:58 "You know, I'd like to talk with you about this topic. "
15:00 And it may not even be anything really heavy, but anything;
15:03 "I want to talk to you about my day. "
15:05 It would be good if I gave my undivided attention.
15:10 So for instance, if I'm watching TV, or sewing, or cooking,
15:15 or whatever else it is, I need to be able to say
15:18 either this is not a good time and perhaps if you could
15:21 wait 15 or 20 minutes, or just put it aside and say,
15:25 "You know what, I want to give you my undivided attention. "
15:30 You know, it reminds me of earlier in our marriage
15:34 when we would speak to each other from
15:36 different rooms in the house.
15:38 And it was never a good thing.
15:40 You would be in a different room, perhaps in the bathroom,
15:44 I'd be in the bedroom and we'd be talking to each other.
15:47 And my recollection of that is that most times, we didn't
15:52 quite get what the other person was saying.
15:54 And we ended up on different pages.
15:57 Definitely with mixed signals, right?
16:00 Absolutely, and so we got to the place where we agreed
16:03 in our relationship, in our marital relationship that
16:05 we would not speak to each other from
16:07 different rooms in the house.
16:08 Something as simple as that can actually change the dynamic of
16:11 your communication.
16:13 Agree that when you speak you're going to be in the same room,
16:17 you're going to look at each other,
16:19 and pay attention so that you're taking in all of
16:23 the nuances that are taking place
16:25 as your spouse tries to convey.
16:27 It also reminds me of when our kids were small
16:30 and you would be having a conversation
16:32 with our son Julian.
16:33 And you would be cooking or doing something else.
16:36 And he usually would come right up to your face
16:38 and grab your face and say,
16:39 "Mommy, mommy. Right here, right here. "
16:42 And basically, what he wanted you to do
16:43 was to look directly in his eyes so that you could understand.
16:46 Because I think that there were times when Julian wanted
16:48 something to happen and it wasn't happening
16:50 because you were thinking something else,
16:52 because you were not really paying attention.
16:55 And so it's important that if we're going to communicate
16:57 and do so effectively, that we begin with understanding
17:01 what the other person is really saying,
17:03 where they're coming from.
17:04 If we don't understand, we're going to make
17:06 the wrong decision.
17:08 We must begin from a point of understanding.
17:12 Something else that we need to do is focus on the
17:14 good qualities of the other person.
17:17 To affirm the other person, to praise them
17:19 when they're doing something well.
17:21 That's another way in which we can enhance communication.
17:24 It opens the road for clear communication.
17:29 When you say, "praise the other person,"
17:31 what are you thinking about?
17:33 Can you paint me a visual?
17:35 Sure, if you do something good, then I can say,
17:39 "You know sweetheart, I really appreciated the fact
17:41 that you swept the kitchen today. "
17:43 "I really appreciated the fact that you did the dishes. "
17:48 Now someone might be saying,
17:49 "Well, I mean, it's both of our kitchens.
17:52 So, I mean, why do I have to thank you
17:54 for doing the kitchen?"
17:55 Because it's the right thing to do.
17:57 It's a civilized thing to do.
17:59 If I thank you then it builds endorphins, right?
18:04 And then you feel good about you, you feel good about me,
18:08 and you feel good about our relationship so that
18:11 it's much easier for us to communicate.
18:14 Because remember, we spoke about the fact
18:16 that communication sometimes is impeded
18:19 by our fear of rejection.
18:21 If we feel that there is something that the other person
18:24 is thinking that perhaps is different than the way we think,
18:27 that we might be reluctant to share it.
18:30 But if I feel good about you, if I feel good about our
18:33 relationship, it's a lot easier for us to communicate.
18:36 I also think that if you affirm me on something like
18:39 washing dishes when, well it's my kitchen as well,
18:42 it's our home and I probably ate from those dishes as well.
18:46 Well, if you say something nice to me about those dishes,
18:49 my chances of washing those dishes again are pretty high
18:53 as opposed to if you said nothing, you ignore me
18:55 you acted like, "Well, you're suppose to do that anyway. "
18:58 Well, what we're trying to do in marriage
19:00 is to create good feelings.
19:02 Do not miss any opportunity from creating good feelings.
19:07 The more good feelings we create, the better the
19:09 environment of our home.
19:10 The more good feelings we create, the more we can
19:13 build each other up.
19:14 The more good feelings we create, the happier
19:17 those who live in the home are and the easier it is
19:20 to give honor and glory to God.
19:22 Because after all, that's what marriage is for,
19:25 to give honor and glory to God.
19:27 Absolutely, so in continuing when talking about our
19:30 good communication skills, one of the things that we
19:33 have to learn how to, that we have to learn to do
19:36 is to be assertive, not aggressive but assertive.
19:40 To tell your mate what it is you're thinking,
19:43 what you're feeling.
19:44 If I can say to you, "I feel great when you decide that
19:49 you want to spend the Sunday afternoon with me and
19:52 give up your football game. "
19:54 You know, I'm being assertive in sharing my praise.
19:59 But then, it's a lot easier when I have to say,
20:02 you know, I really feel hurt when you do "x, y, z".
20:08 And so, I need to learn how to share my feelings
20:13 and how to be assertive about my thoughts,
20:15 my emotions, my feelings.
20:16 In other words, what I'm hearing you say Elaine, is that
20:19 We shouldn't ever get to the place where we have our spouse
20:23 guessing about where we're coming from, how we're feeling,
20:26 how this is affecting me.
20:28 But we need to be clear and assertive by sharing clearly
20:32 and unabashedly what it is that we're feeling and thinking.
20:37 Right? So that we're not saying, well you know, we've been
20:41 married for five years, for ten years.
20:42 You should know what I'm thinking.
20:43 You should know what I need.
20:44 You should know what I want.
20:45 Lots of couples do that to their detriment.
20:48 Because, I've spoken to couples who've been married for 50 years
20:52 and they still can't read each others thoughts.
20:56 So don't expect your spouse to read your thoughts.
21:00 Because we're just not magicians.
21:03 Well that's very true.
21:04 Your spouse will never be able to read your mind.
21:07 And that's actually a good thing
21:09 because that would be rather scary, I would think,
21:13 if you were able to read my mind.
21:15 Another thing that we want to do in the whole
21:17 transaction of communicating is avoid criticism.
21:20 Criticism is such a "downer".
21:23 Someone is trying to do something and most times
21:26 we're trying to do it out of the goodness of our heart.
21:28 We need to avoid criticizing our mate.
21:31 Any person can criticize and put down what
21:34 someone else is doing.
21:35 It takes a wise person to praise, to build up.
21:39 And since it's our marriage, I want to build it up.
21:41 Because I'm in it, I'm a part of the building.
21:44 I'm a part of what's going to be sustained
21:46 because of what we put into it.
21:49 Yea, and if we have to criticize, and I'm
21:50 reluctant to use that word, but if we use it constructively.
21:55 So for instance, I can say to you, "You know, I really
21:59 appreciate the fact that you did the laundry.
22:01 I'm just wondering if next time you can remember to buy
22:04 detergent before we run out. "
22:07 You know, that way I'm balancing the criticism
22:10 with a praise statement.
22:12 So I'm letting you know how much I appreciate
22:14 that you've done the laundry, but I also want you to remember
22:18 that in order to do laundry we need detergent.
22:21 So, you're being assertive and you're trying to be positive.
22:25 So, say one good thing and then the other thing,
22:28 which is not a bad thing but it's a real thing.
22:30 If we have no detergent, we can't do the laundry.
22:33 So, "Thank you and next time could you get
22:36 some detergent as well?"
22:37 What about another point on this whole thing
22:41 of communicating well?
22:42 Communicating well, we need to listen to understand.
22:45 So it's really essential that when we are listening
22:49 to our mate, that we're seeking understanding.
22:52 I think it's Stephen Covey that says,
22:54 "Seek first to understand, then to be understood. "
22:58 "Seek first to understand, then to be understood. "
23:00 So when I'm listening to you, I am seeking
23:03 understanding from you.
23:05 I'm not trying to rebut, I'm not trying to defend myself.
23:09 I'm not trying to judge your statement.
23:11 I'm not trying to figure out what I'm going to say
23:14 when you're finished speaking.
23:15 I'm seriously listening to hear what you have to say.
23:20 And when I do that, I'm looking at your eyes.
23:23 And I'm trying to read your heart.
23:25 And I'm trying to decipher what it is you're trying to say to me
23:29 so that I can truly understand, not trying to get you to
23:33 understand me.
23:35 I think another point in effective communication is
23:38 to, let's see, well use "I" statements.
23:43 But more than that, to use active listening.
23:46 And active listening is like this.
23:49 When you say something, instead of saying, "You said so and so,"
23:53 I would say, "I heard you say thus and so. "
23:57 The reason why that's so important is that
24:00 perhaps what I heard you say is not what you really said.
24:03 And if you said something and I said, "Well you said
24:06 so and so," it becomes antagonistic, confrontational.
24:11 "Well you said so and so. "
24:12 And you may say, "No that's not what I said. "
24:14 It's easier to say, "I heard you say so and so. "
24:18 And then you can say to me, "Well, that's not
24:20 exactly what I said. "
24:21 And I can say, "Well, can you tell me again?"
24:23 But if you say, "You said so and so,"
24:26 all of a sudden, that's confrontational.
24:28 and people say, "Well, that's not what I said. "
24:29 And so, active listening is mirroring, summarizing what the
24:35 other person said so that you can be on the same page.
24:37 And it gives the person an opportunity to say,
24:39 "Yes, that's what I meant. " Or "Yes, that's what I said. "
24:42 Or "No, that's not exactly what I said. "
24:43 And you can right size and get your communication
24:46 back on track again.
24:49 I think a good example of that, that we've used in the past is,
24:52 someone calls home, let's say it's a man in this instance,
24:57 and calls home, the wife happens to get home first from work.
25:00 And he says, "So what's for dinner tonight?"
25:03 And he thinks, and she thinks...
25:07 And she immediately thinks, "Oh, well why do I have
25:11 to be the one to cook dinner?"
25:12 And he might be thinking, "Would you like to go out
25:16 to dinner tonight?"
25:17 Correct, and so if the person had mirrored
25:21 what the person said which is, "So you're saying
25:25 you want me to cook?"
25:28 Then the person will have an opportunity to say,
25:30 "No, that's not what I mean at all.
25:32 I mean, where would you like to go out to dinner tonight?"
25:35 You know, you have a favorite restaurant, perhaps at Manna.
25:38 Or someplace like that.
25:39 And it totally changes the dialogue.
25:42 It totally changes the communication and it frees it
25:45 of any animosity or resentment
25:47 when we practice good communication skills.
25:50 We also need to avoid blaming each other for anything.
25:52 Communication is not about blaming.
25:54 Communication is about trying to accurately understand
25:58 where the other person is coming from.
25:59 Because, we need to behave from a point of understanding
26:04 rather than one of no understanding.
26:08 Right. Well, this whole thing of communication is
26:11 pretty challenging and it's pretty difficult.
26:13 And if couples are having difficulty communicating,
26:16 there are a lot of wonderful books that are Christian books
26:19 that can teach us specific skills.
26:22 Of course, the Bible is very clear
26:25 about how to communicate well.
26:27 And there are lots of wonderful texts in the Bible that will
26:29 teach us and show us how to be good listeners,
26:32 how to speak so that people what to hear.
26:35 There are wonderful ways, different techniques that
26:39 we can use in communicating well.
26:41 Well, I liked to share with them that if
26:44 they're looking for a place to learn how to communicate well
26:46 to go to a marriage conference.
26:47 Go to our website at adventistfamilyministries. com
26:50 and learn where we're going to have
26:51 another marriage conference.
26:52 And you can come and learn how to communicate effectively.
26:56 In the Bible, in James 1:19 it says:
27:07 And the power of courtesy, Ellen White has something to say.
27:10 And what is it she says?
27:25 So this communication thing is very important.
27:28 When we do it well, we can honor God.
27:31 When we don't, it can be problematic.
27:33 The promise of success is, "We can do all things through Christ
27:37 who gives us strength. "
27:38 So let's stress God. Let's read His word.
27:41 Let's communicate well.
27:43 God bless you.