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TO BUILD RESILIENT FAMILIES, CLEAR, OPEN COMMUNICATION KEY

Sir,

Communication enforces understanding and enables a couple to assume a common position in whatever opportunity or threat they face. By communication I mean engaging in clear, open, affirming, consistent, empathic speaking and listening, which often results in constructive conflict management and problem solving. If you are to build a resilient family, communication must be clear and open.


Husbands and wives should set the tone and standard of communication in the home – how you interact with your spouse in conversation paints a vivid picture for your children to follow. Clear communication means that both husband and wife are free to express themselves to each other. The importance of clear communication in marriage cannot be overemphasised, as it often leads to the longevity of that marriage. If you do not know how to ask for what you need, you will be missing out, not necessarily because you cannot get it, but because you cannot ask for it. Be clear and remove any ambiguity in your conversations. If something is unclear, ask, do not assume. When the conversation is clear, it will be more effective.

Effective communication in marriage leads to better understanding and increases intimacy between couples. Being open in all issues that affect your marriage is significant. If you appreciate your partner, make sure that they know about it. They must understand you whenever you are happy or not comfortable with them. Keeping quiet for fear of annoying your partner may lead to more harm than good. Husband and wife must not feel constrained when they converse with each other – no issue must be out of bounds. Openness, in any relationship, is important and it requires wisdom, good timing and skill in articulating the words. This means that, as a couple, you must initiate more face-to-face conversations and limit text messages, emails and phone calls for emergencies.

Communication

In marriage, even the less critical communications should be made face-to-face. When you talk with your spouse, it is more than just the exchange of words, the eye contact and body posture is important. Face to face conversations give the clarity needed and they enhance understanding and confidentiality. If you cannot make time to talk face-to-face, you can postpone the discussion to a later date or if you are physically apart use technology that can allow visuals. Do not underestimate the power of face to face conversations.

Communication between married people must not only be clear and open, but it must be affirmative and consistent. It is important to know what to say, how to say it, when to speak or keep quiet. Affirmative communication has undertones of assertive communication – the ability to express your needs, desires, ideas and feelings, while also considering the needs of others. Assertive communicators aim for both sides to win in a situation, balancing one’s feelings with the feelings of others. Husband and wife need to season their conversation with this kind of communication. Both need to develop communication skills and it starts by taking ownership, maintaining eye contact, learning to freely express your needs, feelings, and desires confidently.

Consistency in communication is also a vital component as it leads to trust and reliability. Couples who are more consistent in their interactions with each other are likely to form predictable behaviours and enhance harmony in their marriage. Consistency in communication is also an important model for children, as parents must always endeavour to ‘say what they mean and mean what they say’. Do not say one thing and then do the other. Communication also includes empathic listening, which is a way of listening and responding to another person that improves mutual understanding and trust. Employing empathic listening will not only enrich your communication but build trust and respect, enable all parties to release their emotions, reduces tensions, encourages the surfacing of information, and creates a safe environment that is conducive to collaborative problem solving.