to Personal Touch Articles
Learning to Communicate Gently
When young couples come into marriage
counseling, I often shudder when I hear them talk to each other
in excessive disrespectful tones. The beginning stages of a
young relationship can produce harsh, dogmatic, authoritarian
messages that will damage their relationship. The meanness of
the language will poison the sweetness of their love. Gentle
communication is required for their relationship to grow and
Why would couples take a new love and deal with it so harshly?
Because they are in the power struggle stage of their relationship.
During this stage, both parties are struggling to dominate,
struggling to be recognized, struggling for independence. This
is an important adjustment stage most young couples visit. Many
marriages stay in this power struggle stage for years and do
serious damage to their communication system by speaking from
anger and domination, rather than respect and honor.
Chances are one or both of the partners witnessed their parents
speak in this tone to each other. But in business, if employers
spoke with such force, a lawsuit would be forth coming, so I
find it hard to believe couples do not know better. Bad habits
and unconscious behavior catch couples off guard.
If couples are unconscious about how they sound when talking
to each other, I recommend they tape record their disagreements
and then listen to how they sound and work towards finding new
ways to speak that accomplish the task without destroying the
love. Football player’s watch replays so they can improve
their skills, and if couples are serious about building a better
marriage, they could use a replay system to improve their communication.
I also recommend before offering a communication that might
be hurtful to ask your partner would it be a good time to discuss
an issue that might be difficult to hear. This request warns
the other, and allows them to be ready to hear a difficult message.
If your partner responds that now would not be a good time,
ask them when might be an appropriate time for such a discussion.
If they respond “never”, then the problem is much
deeper than communication styles. If they respond “later”,
ask for a definitive time and place and be certain to follow
through with such a communication.
What is missing from most immature relationships is self-control.
Such relationships feel it is permissible to dump hurtful messages
all over the place, like some people think it is OK to trash
the environment, or destroy a living space by leaving their
trash anywhere they please.
Relationships take work to succeed. No one is above hurting
others. And the last person you should hurt is your marriage
partner. If you are destructive in such a relationship, you
will find that once this one is destroyed, you will probably
repeat the same mistake with the next. How many relationships
do you have to go through to understand that relationship thrive
on love, harmony and respect, not callous disregard for another’s
No one would dream of taking a brand new baby and handling it
harshly. The same should be true for a new love. It is new,
impressionable, and needs tenderness, care and gentleness. Harsh
communication delivered during the power struggling stage destroys
love and creates resentment. Caring communication needs to be
present if you want your new love to grow.
back to top