What communication does in marriage

Jun. 24, 2016

I will be dwelling on the topic of communication in marriage in the coming weeks. Why is communication an important piece in marriage? What causes lack of communication? Can communication shut down between couples? What are the consequences of poor communication? What could be the remedies? 

Remember the drama in the Garden of Eden: “The Lord God said; “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him.” So the Lord God formed out of the ground various wild animals and various birds of the air, and he brought them to the man to see what he would call them; whatever the man called each of them would be its name. The man gave names to all the cattle, all the birds of the air, and all the wild animals; but none proved to be the suitable partner for the man” (Gen. 2:18-20). But when the woman was introduced into the life of the man, “The Lord God then built up into a woman the rib he had taken from the man. When he brought her to the man, the man said: “This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called ‘woman,’ for out of ‘her man’ this one has been taken” (Cf. Gen. 2: 21-23). The story above points out two things- (1) the introduction of woman into the life of man (traditional marriage) and (2) importance of communication (sufficient communication in marriage). 

Amanda and Aiden have been married for twenty three years, and live in the United States. Amanda is a medical doctor while her husband Aiden is a legal attorney. Both are from Jamaica. Amanda got in touch with me through her friend when their marriage started getting cranky. She was planning to leave her husband because she said she didn’t feel anything for him again. Their communication had become so poor. They rarely exchanged text messages, never called each other once they left their homes for work. Amanda complained that her husband didn’t really care about her feelings. She felt that she carried a lot of excesses from her work. Often times, she would want to share with her husband, but such moments never came. Aiden felt his wife too, was disinterested in his own happiness. As a result, he found comfort in the company of friends. Usually, he would join them after work and would stay away sometimes till the following morning. The couple kept avoiding each other to the point of filling their spaces with extra-family activities and persons. Their communication shut down. They got easily irritated with each other. They only found faults any time they got together. Rather than put their issues on the table, they suppressed their feelings and completely avoided one another. Amanda expressed that her greatest partner was her job. This tore them apart for the worst.

Amanda and Aiden represent the picture of many marriages in today’s world. The couple spent very little time together. They completely lost communications with each other as husband and wife. While both parties had stressful work schedule, they volunteered their satisfaction and marriage joy to friends and outsiders. Aiden gradually started to drink while Amanda began to welcome sweet talks from some male clients. She started opening herself to a possible date. They made themselves vulnerable, and in the words of Pope Francis, “This is often the case with families where communication is lacking, defensive attitudes predominate, the members are not supportive of one another, family activities that encourage participation are absent, the parental relationship is frequently conflictual and violent, and relationships between parents and children are marked by hostility” (Amoris Laetitia, no.51).

Armanda and Aiden’s marriage was only remedied by their summer vacation trip to their home country. For sure, both didn’t travel together. While Aiden left a week earlier, Amanda traveled later with their two kids. But they all stayed together at their home in Jamaica. No work, less friends, more jokes, more physical presence! They ate together, had fun and prayed together for the entire month. On their return to the U.S., Amanda was filled with excitement and rejuvenation. She called me to say her husband was completely a changed person back home in Jamaica. “The old Aiden is back, the man I married”, she echoed. They had enough time to stay together in order to rediscover their conjugal warmth. They found out that their greatest enemy was insufficient communication with one another. And what she said to me was, “We nearly lost it”.

Let’s wait to see the threats to communication in marriage in our next article.