There are many, many books written about marriage, but I like “A Lasting Promise” by Stanley Scott best. He studied 135 couples starting from when they were engaged and continuing through 12 years of marriage. By analyzing the data he was convinced that he could predict with 90% certainty which couples would make a successful marriage and which would not. He found that certain communication patterns that began when the couples were engaged and continued through marriage were the primary determinants in the success of the marriages.
Let me share the four most common communication patterns that lead to failed marriages.
The first is Escalation. The conversation goes like this: “Can’t you replace the toothpaste cap when you’re finished?” “What about you? You never put your socks in the hamper!” “Why are you changing the subject? I’m talking about the toothpaste cap. You always do that.” You’ve probably figured out where the conversation is heading. The couple turns a simple argument into an exchange of accusations. They will never achieve a happy marriage.
The second is Invalidation. “I think I messed up my presentation in front of my boss yesterday. I’m worried that this will reduce my chances for promotion.” “Didn’t I tell you you should pray harder while preparing for the presentation? It’s not too late to start praying even now.” She may be right, but invalidating her partner’s feelings won’t make their marriage a happy one.
The third is Negative Interpretation. “My mother is very ill. I have to visit her.” “We have to charge it on our credit card. It will be hard to pay back the credit card debt.” “You always make an issue out of my visiting mother. My mother is important to me. I will make this visit no matter what!” “I’m not stopping you from visiting your mother. I’m just stating the fact it will take a while to pay up the credit card debt.” “You said that because you don’t like my mother.” Couples who interpret each others’ remarks in negative ways won’t make a successful marriage.
The fourth is Seek and Hide. “You’re watching too much TV. Let’s talk about it.” “(As he exits the room) We already talked about it; there’s nothing more to talk about.” “(Following him) We didn’t resolve anything that time.” “I’m busy right now.” A marriage where one is pursuing and the other avoiding cannot be a successful one.
Do you see your own communication pattern in these four examples? If so, share your thoughts with your spouse and your house church members. Try to find the cause of these destructive communication patterns and find a solution. The Marriage class begins this week and will be helpful tool for getting out of destructive communication patterns. Be encouraged, because just being aware of the problem is half of the way to victory. Knowing is half the battle.
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