You want to improve communication in your marriage, but not all communication is the same. It varies in importance, urgency, sensitivity and purpose. This is true for marriage as well as all relationships. Just as the message varies, the means in which we communicate is also diverse. Eons ago, communication was limited to face to face conversation. In time, written language was developed and the ability to communicate with someone in a remote location became available. This was incredibly valuable, but the news received was always somewhat delayed.
Hundreds of years later the Alexander Graham Bell invented the first telephone. That allowed two people to talk in real time across large distances. In 1973, Motorola invented the first cell phone. This for the first time allowed people to talk in real time across large distances while not being tethered to a phone cord connected to a wall.
Today our communication options have continued to expand. We can now engage with multiple people in real time, seeing both their face and hearing their voice on our phones or our computers. We can email large documents across the world in moments and even work together remotely on a single document. There is no doubt that these advances in technology have made our lives easier, but at the same time, have they in some ways crippled the quality of our communication?
Has communication gotten easier or more complex?
While we have all of these tools at our disposal, we must learn when it is appropriate to use each. I once heard a friend of mine refer to 2D and 3D communication. In this he was specifically referring to using text, phone, email or in person conversations. 2D conversations are very basic and not likely to be misunderstood. 3D conversations are more complex or sensitive in nature and are prone to misinterpretation. Using the right tool at the right time will help you to improve communication in your marriage.
As an example, if you are reminding your spouse to pick up a gallon of milk on their way home, a simple text message works fine. Likewise, a simple “I love you” text received in the middle of the day can brighten anyone’s attitude. These are perfect examples and applications of 2D conversations.
A phone call is preferred if basic interaction is required. Texts may suffice, but may require multiple iterations (back and forth) to make sure there is clarity. “Are you able to meet at noon for lunch today?” “Yes, where do you want to go?” “Let’s meet at the corner deli – I’m buying”. There is no need in a conversation like this to read body language or to more deeply understand the motivation of either partner. Granted anyone under 40 would strictly do this as a text, but for the rest of us – a phone call seems simpler!
A 3D conversation is one that needs to have in-person conversation. Studies show that a high percentage of communication is non-verbal (body language). This can only be observed while together in person. How many times have you sent an email or text to someone that is misunderstood? Their reply is far different that what you expected. You may have meant something as a joke that they took seriously, or vice versa. You would understand that if meeting in person, but it happens all too frequently in 2D communication.
One of the most commonly expressed concerns in marriages is lack of or poor communication. A great place to start focusing on this would be in the area of determining the best method of communicating for each situation. Sensitive issues, anger or frustration are not appropriate for texting. Things can escalate quickly without being in the presence of your spouse. They may perceive you as being at an “anger level” of 10 when you’re really only at a 4. Save these conversations for a time when you can be together and can commit to working through the issue until it is resolved. Save the texting for “Can you pick up Johnny after band practice?” Using the appropriate means of communication is a great way to improve communication in your marriage. Want to learn more? Contact us for a free consultation!