Terrible “twos,” temper tantrums, pouting children who don’t get their way,moody teenagers, drama kings and queens. I’m sure we all have immediate images of the communication struggles displayed through the immaturity and selfishness of children at various stages of their development. Whereas the “Parenting” form of communication exerts excessive control over a spouse, communication is also doomed if a spouse takes on the “Child” form of dialogue.
There are 4 aspects of childlike dialogue that are common in marriages that struggle with communication.
Our culture seems to crave drama; it’s astonishing the popularity of “reality” shows filled with individuals and families of constant drama. Social media heightens the drama in our culture by giving people a rapid-fire platform.
Marriage is filled with complex and difficult issues, situations, adjustments, and circumstances. When these arise, healthy marriages avoid becoming drama kings and queens and rather communicate calmly, respectfully, and maturely. Mature spouses don’t vent their lives on Facebook or Twitter. Rather, they work together, listen, pray, and reflect on the issues at hand.
Have you ever noticed nothing is a child’s fault.I failed the test, I struck out, I got detention, I got a speeding ticket… but it’s not my fault!!! No, mom really, the teacher doesn’t like me; No dad, seriously, the speedometer is broken! In my own marriage, and in the overwhelming majority of situations I’ve counseled as a pastor, marital struggles are a two-way street and constantly blaming one another while avoiding personal responsibility almost guarantees log jammed communication.
Lack Of Sharing
Ask any parent who has ever gone to a playground or refereed a play-date. Children just don’t share very well. Similarly, when things get tough in a marriage, spouses can often take their emotional toys and leave. It’s as if spouses say, “Well, I’m taking my love and going to another room;” “I’m taking my joy and going somewhere else;” “I’m not sharing my gratitude with you anymore.” These may sound silly but are common occurrences in unhealthy communication patterns.
Are you getting upset and taking your emotional toys elsewhere? Are things frosty for several days after a tough conversation? Healthy marriages don’t withhold but share, enrich, and enhance one another. When times are tough, that is when your toys of most needed are you funny, optimistic, adventurous? Are you a good cook? Are you good at planning a nice evening? Whatever your strengths and gifts may be, share them with your spouse and when things are tough, it’s even more important to share than withhold.
Children often struggle if someone else is getting attention, resulting in a reaction of pouting, sulking, or griping. Fortunately for children, they usually get over it fairly quickly. However, when adults take on a “woe is me” attitude, it can linger and in some cases become a glass half-full mindset. Workplaces, groups of all types, and athletic teams have all experienced the perennially negative co-worker, member, or teammate. Sadly, the entire team or organization can be significantly hindered by someone who is routinely negative, downcast, or feeling sorry for themselves.
Marriage has challenges and difficulties. Further, marriages have ups and downs and if one of the parties takes on the pouting, woe is me” attitude, communication will be very difficult and draining.
Communication in a marriage is doomed if either spouse (or even worse if both) operates out of a “Child” mentality. To help couples avoid communicating like a “Parent” or a “Child,” the next piece in this series will help couples develop the “Adult” characteristics of dialogue (the “A” in the original PAC analogy), which can help all couples develop Godly communication habits to create healthy and holy marriages.