||PRACTICALITIES OF COMMUNICATION
- March '02/Adar-Nisan 5762
"Unexpressed words are not words [Kidushin 49b]." Things that you do not say cannot be assumed to be understood by another. In bais din, a witness must give precise testimony. The dayanim cannot assume a meaning other than the witness' actual words. In marriage, an absence of words, similarly, cannot substitute for expressed words. For example, if a husband does not express heartfelt appreciation for what his wife does for the home, marriage and children; she will be heartbroken and feel cheap, resentful and taken for granted. He cannot assume she "knows" he appreciates her. "It is not possible for one person to know another person's thoughts [Pesachim 54b]."
A frame affects the impression one has of a picture. Similarly, in linguistics, there is a concept that people "frame" their communications. For example, your tone can make our conversation seem to be an argument or a chat. Your attitude can make you seem like you are my equal, an arrogant superior or a meek inferior. You can appear to be neutrally discussing a subject, or asking for or offering advice. People's reactions can be determined by how our communication is "framed." Words account for only seven percent of the perception created in a communication. There are numerous other factors that can weigh more heavily than the words on how a communication is perceived; including tone, emotion, voice speed or volume, timing, atmosphere, body gestures or motions, facial expression, sensitivities, neuroses, the history of the subject matter or of the relationship and a person's background.
Look for things to get your spouse's input on. When your spouse sees you acting on his or her advice or views, this will make your spouse feel important and happy and will make your marriage closer. More important than the issue itself, you use such opportunities to let your spouse be right, good, validated and expert. You can practice alliance, respect, appreciation and open communication. You can attribute importance and value to your spouse each time you get - and act upon - your spouse's feelings, advice or opinion.
When having a difference, approach each other as if the other were sage counsel with a wise and weighty opinion to be seriously considered. Consistently discuss differences with gentleness, adaptability, humility, open communication, respect and calm. Always together work out a long-run resolution that will be peaceful, amicable, practical and mutually agreeable.
Another "twist." It would be extremely valuable and useful to find as many successful role models as you possibly can (e.g. learned rabbis, happy couples). Get to be close with them. Spend time with them. Use every opportunity that you possibly can to be with and socialize with as many couples as you possibly can...couples who are successful relaters. Watch them. Learn from them. Absorb what they do and how they do it. See how they relate to each other, speak to each other, respect each other, interact with each other, communicate with each other, emote with each other, are thoughtful towards each other. Pick up all their skills and the way they do things, so that you too can become a successful marital communicator and relator.
Working in a gentle and ongoing way, a couple can build love, rapport, understanding, trustworthiness, sensitivity, communication, closeness and warmth. A couple has to spend time to build a bond and a sense of connection. The time must be spent regularly; and in a respectful, affectionate and considerate fashion. Part of the value in this is giving the wife the secure sense that she "owns" regular quality time for building the relationship with her husband. A recommended part of this should be regularly speaking to each other about how each one's day went, and speaking to each other whenever there are things which are of concern to either partner. Know when to "back off," also. When speaking, hear and be attentive to what the other has to say.
Study together the subject of "relationship" regularly. Working together on a successful relationship and spending mutually satisfying "quality time" (to deepen the relationship and to know each other more and more "accurately") throughout your entire married life is an obligation, even if you have to sacrifice some of your earnings on your job to do it. "Better is a meager meal of vegetable with love there, than a rich luxurious meal without love (Proverbs 15:17)." Be prepared to trade some wealth in the form of money for wealth in the form of love, respect and peace in your life.
APPLY ALL OF THIS TO THE PRACTICAL RELATIONSHIP. PLEASE CUT OUT, SAVE AND REVIEW ALL OF THESE MATERIALS ON THE SUBJECT OF COMMUNICATION. IF TAKEN TO HEART AND APPLIED IN PRACTICAL LIFE, YOUR APPROACH TO COMMUNICATING WILL NEVER BE THE SAME - IT WILL BE PERMANENTLY CHANGED ENTIRELY FOR THE BETTER.