Monthly Archives: June 2009

Communication: Sometimes it’s about what we don’t say

We always hear about how important communication is in our marriages. I do agree that the way we communicate with each other is of utmost importance. However, what does it mean to communicate?

I think that sometimes we confuse communicating with talking. I don’t think to communicate always means to talk. I think that sometimes the best communication might be what we choose not to say.

When my wife and I first got married, someone gave us a quote that we thought was pretty funny at the time… “Go into marriage with both eyes wide open, and once your married keep at least one eye shut.”

We have come to more deeply understand and appreciate this concept the longer we are married. I believe that most of us understand intellectually the idea that we go into marriage blinded by love and that we can’t expect perfection in each other. But, knowing that and actually living that is not always the same thing.

Our emotions and feelings often overpower our logic and reason and with time we may find ourselves feeling resentment towards our spouse because of some of their habits or personal traits. This can cause a rift to develop with your spouse that you need to address.

As is most often the case, the way we communicate with each other has a huge impact on how we deal with these unmet expectations, or disappointments. While I am definitely a firm believer that you need to be able to communicate clearly and openly with your spouse about what is happening within your marriage, I don’t believe that everything you think or feel actually needs to be said.

For example, if I attempt to leave the house with socks that don’t match, I would hope that my wife would point that out to me, but I’m pretty sure that if she continually told me that she wished I’d consider a toupee, or hair plugs, to help “cure” my baldness, eventually it would start bothering me and I would begin to wonder if my lack of hair was really a problem. She’s not wrong; I am losing my hair, but will continually pointing that out to me help me somehow? What if I don’t mind being bald?

The same would go for a husband who continually “reminds” his wife that she’s put on a few pounds since the baby. He may technically be right, since most women do put on a few pounds when they have a baby, but is it actually helpful to her, or to the marriage relationship to keep pointing that out to her?

Sometimes I hear people actually justifying these type of comments as being “constructive criticism” or trying to be helpful and loving. But if the only result to this type of statement is that someone’s feelings are hurt, I don’t believe it has anything to do with being helpful, or loving, as much as it has to do with being selfish and having unrealistic expectations.

I believe that communication is critical in strengthening any marriage relationship, however communication does not always mean speaking what is on our mind. Sometimes communication is not saying things that would only make someone feel bad, and would not actually provide any positive value. It’s sometimes about what we don’t say.