Communication is one of the five major pillars that support all relationships, especially marriage. I have spent some time to provide a very elaborate account on communication in one of my books: “The value and power of effective communication”, and you can contact me directly or get in touch with Fruitful Ministries in Accra (020-8126533) and Kumasi (0244-786658) in Ghana for copies.
I wish to draw our attention to a very important aspect of communication in marriage relationships that we have lost sight of: THE IMPLICATIONS OF OUR PROPOSALS AND PROMISES, AND THE RESPONSES WE GIVE TO ANY PROPOSALS AND PROMISES OF OUR LOVERS AND COMPANIONS.
Communication actually starts all marriages and love relationships. A gentleman will propose love to a woman with words (e.g. “I love you, and want to marry you, and share my entire life with you all the days of my life”), and the lady will consider it carefully and also respond with words (e.g. “After serious thought I have decided to agree to your proposal to marry you because I also love you and find you as my best match for an intimate love relationship as long as I live”). Wow! The permanent love boat begins to sail down the blissful waters of marital adventure for the establishment of another marriage and family on earth.
During my church, radio, television, and other public family programs in Ghana in the summer of 2004, one of my emphasis was whether men and the women clearly understand the implications of the words that come from their lips when they make proposals and promises, or respond to the hopeful words thy hear from their prospective lovers and friends.
When you tell someone: “I love you; I want to live with you in a permanent marriage union, and share my life with you”, or verbally respond to such proposal or promises given you by your lover, it is a tremendous statement with profound and varied implications that demand serious commitment, courage, determination, consistency, faithfulness, godliness, and diligence. What you mean is that in addition to the appealing physical and spiritual characteristics that initially attract you in your new lover, you ALSO love everything else that is present in the person’s life, plus whatever will become part of the person’s future life, NEGATIVE, OR POSITIVE. We often focus only on the positive traits, and later become grossly disappointed by the negative characteristics we neglect or refuse to acknowledge and factor into our plans to live and work with our lover.
When you say “I love you”, it means that in addition to all the desirable qualities, you also love for example: the person’s toothache, foul body and mouth odor, sinus problem, migraine headache, chronic cold, high blood pressure, stomach ulcer, sight and hearing problems, allergies, loud snoring in the night, fibroid in the womb, blocked fallopian tube, unresponsive sexual stimulation, unromantic attitude, sexual addiction, adulterous spirit, perverted sexual life, low sperm count, premature ejaculation, enlarged prostate, selfishness, spirit of impatience and anger, grumbling and quarreling spirit, habitual lies and deception, worldliness, financial mismanagement, godlessness and aversion towards church or spiritual matters, drinking and smoking or drug habits, laziness, sick relative, immoral and delinquent brother or sister, family poverty and other financial problems, witchcraft present in the person’s life or in the family line, poor education, terrible grammar and construction of English sentences, poor handwriting, inferiority or superiority complex, etc. The list can be endless.
WE MUST EMPHATICALLY SCHOOL THE MINDS OF ALL MEN AND WOMEN, ESPECIALLY YOUNG ADULTS ON THE WAY TO MARRY, THAT YOU DO NOT ENTER INTO MARRIAGE TO ENJOY A PREPARED MEAL OR FINISHED PRODUCT. MARRIAGE IS NOT AN END IN ITSELF. IT IS A MEANS TO AN END. YOU ENTER INTO MARRIAGE TO PUT YOUR OWN INGREDIENTS TOGETHER FOR YOUR MEAL OR FINISHED PRODUCT.
PARENTS, ELDERS, COUNSELORS, AND MINISTERS SHOULD LET IT SINK DEEP INTO THE MIND, HEART, AND SPIRIT OF EVERYONE THINKING AND PLANNING TO MARRY, THAT ONE PURPOSE OR BENEFIT OF MARRIAGE IS TO BE USED BY GOD AS AN AGENT TO PRODUCE PRODUCTIVE CHANGES IN YOUR LIFE AS WELL AS THE LIFE OF YOUR SPOUSE.
Everything else that accompanies the relationship, including parenting and relationship with in-laws, is meant to shape and build your character for fruitfulness. The good and positive desirable parts of both of you become the foundation for admiration, gratefulness, and enthusiasm that will promote transformation and further changes in your lives. The negative and undesirable parts of your lives become chiseling tools that chip away your rough edges for better and stronger character that is built in both of you as you patiently and humble appreciate, encourage, and enjoy each other.
Marriage is similar to tomatoes, onions, potatoes, plantain, rice, cassava, yam, flour, meat, fish, oil, pepper, salt etc. given to you for a meal. Remember that different people have toiled in farms, gardens, factories, stores and other places to give you their final products that you are going to use as your starting point. It can be compared with the strenuous and devoted work done on your spouse or lover by parents, relatives, and friends from birth till you met the person.
You will have to work on each ingredient (every aspect of your mate’s life) to peel, remove undesirable parts, cut, slice, steam, boil, bake etc., with meticulous care and wisdom as you take or measure the most appropriate proportions for the best meal. You need PATIENCE to wait and allow the ingredients to get to their right levels of preparation or mixture for palatable consumption. And you need the appropriate knowledge and wisdom to make it a balanced diet. You must allow your mate free space with your love and support, for him or her to grow, mature, blossom, bear fruit, and for every part of him or her to become tasty in your ‘marriage meal’, as his or her talents and gifts flourish.
If you gave the ingredients to 100 different individuals, each person’s prepared meal will be different, depending on preferences, style of preparation, carefulness, wisdom, diligence, taste, experience, and even the type of kitchen and available facilities (the kind of background and living environment of the two lovers). Some of the things you will later become unhappy with in your relationship may not even be things that are wrong themselves, but they would be things you do differently or have not lived closely with before you met your mate. You would have to diligently and lovingly work with your companion till you get used to his or her kind of lifestyle. THAT IS WHY YOU NEED TO DO ALL YOU CAN TO KNOW THE PERSON AS BEST AS POSSIBLE BEFORE YOU MARRY HIM OR HER. TRUE KNOWLEDGE IS WHAT WE USE TO RELATE AND LIVE WITH PEOPLE.
Our problem is that we are erroneously programmed in our minds and exposed to the wrong education, plus outmoded customary practices that train us to focus only on the desirable qualities that suit our selfish tastes for us ALONE to benefit and become happy, without consideration of the necessary changes that accompany the interests and well-being that God will want to use us to build in the life of our lover, spouse, or friend.
Copyright March 2002 Rev. Dr.Samuel A. Kisseadoo (Professor of Biology, Hampton University, Hampton, Virginia, USA) Founder and President, Fruitful Ministries International Inc., 6 Red Robin Turn, Hampton, Virginia 23669, USA.
Ph 757-7289330 Fax 757-7289335 [email protected]
FOUNDATIONS FOR SUCCESSFUL FAMILY LIFE
COMMUNICATION (Part II)
I have often emphasized that communication is not just getting things said, but rather getting things heard. Let us now discuss the 5 general principles you need to observe in order to become a good and effective communicator. These 5 general principles are:
CHOOSE THE RIGHT TIME
Good or right timing is essential for success in all aspects of life. It is not just how wonderful our word or deed seems to us, but when to initiate things or pursue our intended objective must be a matter of primary concern to us. For example, we must not communicate sensitive and very important matters to someone when the listener is tired, stressed, angry, frustrated, confused, worried, depressed, grieving, busy, ill etc. We should allow the person to be in the right frame of mind and heart to receive the important information. Parents who do not observe the appropriate timing to correct and discipline their children, or teachers and bosses who choose bad timing to deal with issues regarding their students or employees, are sure to experience more failures than any successes in motivating or training those they are leading.
The natural tendency of every man is to “want to say or do it quickly to get MY results rapidly”. In the process we discard every caution, do not take the welfare of the other fellow into consideration, allow our emotions to carry us forward, and speak at the wrong time. Let us work hard on ourselves to exercise self-control in order to be able to wisely, humbly, decisively, and strategically speak at the right time, if what we intend to say needs to be said at all!
CHOOSE THE RIGHT PLACE
We may choose the best time to say something important to someone, but the place may not be right for such communication, especially if it involves some form of confrontation. Wisely avoid “washing any dirty linen in the street”, or say what may come back to hurt you. Some husbands and wives even go to the extent of subjecting their mates to serious verbal abuses and thunderbolts from their lips before children, in-laws, visitors, and respectable friends. Some bosses do it to employees, pastors do it to congregation members (or vice versa), teachers do it to students (or vice versa), trusted friends do it before respectable persons, and parents do it to children before their peers. Such unwise communication can cause one or more parties to experience deep shame that could mortally damage relationships and leave indelible scars of discord and pain for ages. It is very inappropriate, for example, for a father and a mother to argue over an issue in front of their children. It is not right and edifying to rebuke your husband or wife in front of your children. Apart from disgracing, provoking, and aggravating your spouse, you also cause him or her to become degraded in the minds and hearts of the children. Children can get caught up in the crossfire of unhealthy parental argument and become gravely wounded in the process.
Normally, choosing the wrong place for putting things across to people is most likely to go along with the wrong timing as well. As much as you should not condone evil acts and protect evildoers in their wrongdoing, you must also be concerned about protecting the integrity, reputation, and the dignity of people, especially if they have offended you or someone you love. Do not correct wrong by destroying the wrongdoer, creating serious consequences that might be very difficult or impossible to rectify after the person has repented. Sometimes we erroneously think that by rebuking or confronting people before others we can cause them to listen to us better, and make them change their ways to please us. Invariably, we end up creating enemies instead of friends for ourselves, and cause a bad situation to become worse.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT WORDS
When we are told that words are creative, we better take it serious. Remember that God created things with His words. Usually when we are irritated, annoyed, or angry, self-control can suddenly get lost, and wisdom quickly flies through the window. The stage is then set for egoistic utterances, rebukes, and abrasive words to exude freely and irresponsibly from unsanctified and unguarded lips. It is a vital necessity for you to take time and choose your words carefully when you want to communicate anything sensitive, classified, very personal, and very important to anyone. In most cases you would have to rehearse your words, and think through the meaning, implications, and effects by placing yourself in the position of the receiver. Step back and critically examine the situation and all the associated conditions. This will help you to act and speak more wisely and thoughtfully, rather than being merely emotional, rash, thoughtless, and devoid of love. Apart from your own interests, honestly and objectively focus on the interests of the other fellow or people you are going to deal with as well. Pray for God to put ideas and right words in your mind and heart.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT ATTITUDE
Attitude gives color to actions. Attitudes will always be forerunners to our actions. You attitude implies your behavior, and is the result of your inner character. No matter your choice of best timing, place, and words, your inappropriate attitude can taint your communication, make it ineffective, and cause your efforts to be wasted. Facial expressions and body movements play significant roles in carrying impressions that will intensely color the meaning of your words and actions. Special sounds from your throat or mouth, and your silence, also give impressions. You should make every effort to let the right body language accompany your communication for full impact. In fact, body language alone can communicate definite information in itself. Walking away silently as I speak passionately with you could carry a strong message to me of defiance. All of us must learn to deal with our attitudes!
When you hear people characterizing someone as “impossible”, “stubborn”, or “difficult”’ it is actually a reference to the person’s negative attitude (character) and lack of cooperation when dealing with him or her, and the resulting hindrances that hamper the smooth running of things with the person. Dealing with your attitude should therefore focus on dealing with your character. You should therefore shift from what you see on the surface as “physical behavior” to deeper inner “spiritual qualities” you do not see. In my opinion, God has to be brought into your life to be in charge, in order to get your mind and heart and attitude completely changed and be able to develop new attitudes that are pure, lovely, sincere, attractive, edifying, and godly. Always examine the person you are dealing with (age, gender, position, weaknesses, strengths, relationship with the one, the person’s expectations, your obligations etc.) in order to choose your attitude carefully. Then ensure that you are honest in your approach.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT TONE OF VOICE
We often raise our voices to emphasize our points and express our infuriation or serious view on some issues. It is usually a natural reaction from a frustrated, angry, agitated, and excited human being. There are those who believe that a loud voice is the equivalent of power, supremacy, authority, and dominion. Yes, a number of people intimidate others by their deep or loud voice. Young people and children are often frightened by the loudness of their parents, guardians, elders, and teachers. Bosses and leaders scare their employees and subordinates with their loud and aggressive tones. The poor are intimidated by the commanding and assertive tones of the rich. A number of women are intimidated by the shouts and violent tones of their domineering husbands, or vice versa.
I wish to point out, however, that the more we shout when communicating, the more we cause our blood pressure to shoot up, and the greater our chances of contracting hypertension! We do not dispute the fact that we need to utter stern rebukes sometimes, or speak sternly and firmly when important regulations are being enforced, or when emphasizing some important points are. But we can always make our good point sweet and effective, with a gentle tone of voice, and encourage the mind and heart of the receiver to digest things properly. The more sensitive and emotional a situation or message is, the more gentle and sweet our voices must be. If a wife or husband yells, criticizes, and scolds the mate abrasively during love making or meal time over any lapses or dislikes, the romantic desire for intimacy or the appetite for food will quickly wane or simply vanish to their own chagrin and misery. Remember, still waters run deep!
FOUNDATIONS FOR SUCCESSFUL FAMILY LIFE
COMMUNICATION (Part III)
I am sure several of us always ask: How do I make sure that I am communicating properly to my companion, friend, or relative, especially my spouse and child? This question becomes very relevant especially when we meet roadblocks and frustrations in our communication and interactions with people in our relationships.
In general, I recognize 6 major factors that should guide all of your speech, in order for your communication to become very effective, after observing the 5 fundamental principles (I have already enumerated) for becoming an effective communicator. We have to observe the basic principles of driving in order to get a car on the road, but there are guidelines for good driving which will not simply come automatically because of the observance of the basic driving principles of operating an engine to get a vehicle moving. In the same way you can choose the right time or right place to communicate, but can still not become effective if the following guidelines do not accompany your basic principles:
Make sure you are sincerely asking your questions and making your statements with honest intentions. If your companion detects insincerity, you lose integrity, and you set up destructive barriers against any good communication between the two of you. In addition, God is a God of truth, and will never support a liar. You will be on your own!
Patience is the most important part of faith. If you do not have faith in the person you are speaking to, then there is no point in approaching the one to begin with. Faith goes with trust. If you do not believe that I will believe you, answer your question, or pay attention to you, then why should you approach me in the first place? If you believe you will receive a favorable response from me, then wait patiently for that appropriate response, because my brains will need a few seconds at least, to think over your statement and satisfy your need.
By that I mean you should not ask stupid questions or make foolish and upsetting statements. The desire of men can be so strong under unfavorable or exciting circumstances such that emotions can spill over, and desire can be misguided or become absolutely wrong. In which case desires and emotions can override real wisdom, and then communication that is undesirable can come forth even from respectable lips. That is when, for example, coarse, foolish, and nasty jokes, mockery, or abrasive criticisms and insults spill unthinkably from our mouths, and secrets are unfaithfully and carelessly blurted out without any regard for consequences. This is common when we are excited, frustrated, biased, prejudiced, proud, envious, annoyed, angry, or drunk. We can end up embarrassing or disgracing others and ourselves in public. This can happen on personal level or on radio or televisions programs, and even in the pulpit or business meeting in church and on the job, or at a great conference! If for example you ask your wife or a lady whether she is “going to sell all that fat she has accumulated on her body”, or angrily tell your husband that “all he knows how to do in this world is eating, watching sports on TV, and having sex”, then you are in for a communication disaster!
By that I mean you should be fair and justified in what you ask or say. This becomes important when you are giving orders to children or adults, or when you are demanding answers to sensitive or important questions. Sometimes after volunteering to be nice and kind to someone (giving a donation, paying for something, making time to help etc.), the person asks or expects you to automatically spend more money or time on him or her at your detriment and even beyond your capabilities. Unreasonable or irritating questions and statements can come from the lips of that person to that effect, and they can be so annoying that communication is gravely hindered, and could completely break down between the two of you. The love and friendship between you can be seriously fragmented or destroyed outright. This has always been one of the big blows to good in-law relations, or stepparent and stepchildren love and communication. Is it reasonable, for example, if you shout and protest or insult me when I arrive late at home or to a meeting without first asking me what happened on the way?
Nobody or nothing should make you feel intimidated to communicate what is in your mind and heart freely to anyone in order to receive the best response. You should be able to approach people and make your point or ask your question without any fear of rejection, denial, or embarrassment in the end. If are honest and have good intentions, and have no evil to hide, then your free conscience should energize you for free communication as well. Spouses, parents, family members, in-laws, pastors, ministers, teachers, bosses, and superiors or leaders in particular should create favorable, loving conditions for free communication from those they relate and interact with. We can create intimidating and hostile conditions that frustrate all efforts to communicate on certain important or sensitive issues in a relationship (for example in the areas of sex, romance, money, purchases, savings, investment, property, project, domestic duties, assignment, respect, punctuality, patience, temper, planning, celebration, education, health, common hygiene, recreation, food, dressing, future marriage, religion, commitment to God, bad habits etc.). Because it is a sensitive, hurting, frustrating, or weak area that embarrasses or bothers the person (or the one stubbornly refuses to make changes), any mention of that particular issue would usually spark off some fires! You therefore need much prayer and application of God’s word and God’s wisdom and love, plus humility, to communicate it wisely and freely for maximum effectiveness, relying on God’s power and believing that the Lord will soften the person’s heart and grant the one grant the person listening
You must decisively gather all the courage you can, and take your time to communicate all that is in your heart and mind completely. If you ask only half of your question, then you will receive only half of your desired answer. If you leave important parts of your statements out of your speech, or withhold vital words from your point, then it is likely that you are not going to receive the total response from me that will completely satisfy you. I have noticed that if communication is honest and free, then it has at least 99% chance of being complete as well.
I wish to mention that one of the greatest virtues all of us must build into our lives in order for these 6 communication pillars to become part of our lifestyle is to learn to be good listeners. Every person who is a poor listener is always a very poor communicator as well. If God wanted you to talk more than to listen, He would have given you two mouths and one ear! Please, learn to listen to people, if you are ever going to understand them, agree to work with them in unity, and be of a blessing to them.
Copyright Nov. 2004 Rev. Dr.Samuel A. Kisseadoo (Professor of Biology, Hampton University, Hampton, Virginia, USA) Founder and President, Fruitful Ministries International Inc., 6 Red Robin Turn, Hampton, Virginia 23669, USA. Ph 757-7289330 Fax 757-7289335 [email protected]