Thirty years as a marriage counsellor gave me plenty of evidence that at the root of all sorts of problems was a breakdown in communication. Fortunately, at least sometimes, communication could be restored. But better still is to develop communication skills because that reduces the risk of breakdown happening.
All but a tiny number of us can talk, and can listen. But whether we express ourselves really clearly and whether we really listen is another matter altogether. The risk in an age where some grow up eating in front of the television rather than talking round the meal table is that we don’t arrive in adult life with those skills as well-developed as they might be. But all of us can hone our speaking and listening. There are always things it is more difficult to talk about and there are things that we just don’t want to hear. Getting over those barriers is an effort worth making.
Words are only one form of communication. I have sometimes encouraged couples who find words difficult to close their eyes, hold hands, and see how many different messages they can give through that simple touch – try it and see! ‘And you should see the look they gave each other’ – eyes are another powerful channel for messages.
Mothers’ Union is very grateful to the author of Growing Together: A guide for couples getting married Andrew Body, for kindly writing this article for our website.