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Why Can't We Talk? Lesson 1 - Assume Good Intent!

It's not about a fat bank account or a lot of sex. If you want harmony in a marriage, it all starts with Communication. We've all heard it, right? Yet, despite our best intentions, many couples find themselves locked in cycles of conflict, struggling to effectively communicate with each other. Recent research conducted by The Joy of Marriage in collaboration with The Heart of Marriage Retreat sheds light on a troubling trend that we all know too well: communication consistently emerges as the most common source of conflict in marriages.

In our study, which surveyed couples from various backgrounds and relationship stages, preliminary results indicate that an overwhelming 62% of respondents identify communication as the primary source of conflict when disagreements arise. While it may come as no surprise that intimacy and finances also rank high on the list of marital stressors, what is striking is the pervasive influence of poor communication in exacerbating these conflicts.

So why can't we talk? That's a big question. It's such a big question that we're dedicating a blog series that asks that question: Why Can't We Talk? We want to focus on the many keys to improving communication in our marriages. If we improve our communication, we can improve our marriage.

In the first installment of our "Why Can't We Talk?" series, we delve into a foundational principle: Assume Good Intent. Too often, we approach conversations with our spouses defensively, bracing ourselves for criticism or conflict. This is especially prevalent when our spouse asks us a question. Instead of simply answering the question, we try to anticipate what our spouse really wants to know and typically we're thinking about the topic in a negative light. Maybe they are not questioning us, they are just asking a question because they don't know the answer. What if we shifted our perspective in our conversations and assumed that our spouse's words come from a place of love and concern or in some cases, just plain old curiosity?

To Assume Good Intent, we must listen with an open mind and a compassionate heart, recognizing that our spouse's words are not meant to harm but to express their thoughts, feelings, and needs. By embracing this mindset, we create a safe space for open and honest communication, fostering trust and understanding in our marriage.

As the apostle Paul writes in Philippians 4:8, "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things." This timeless wisdom reminds us to focus our thoughts on the positive aspects of our spouse, their intentions, and the strengths of our relationship. When we listen with humility and empathy, we pave the way for deeper connection and intimacy within our marriage.

In the next installment of "Why Can't We Talk?" we will tackle the topic "In Order To Listen, You Must Listen." For now, let us embrace the transformative power in our marriage when we Assume Good Intent!