Q & A

Good Communication

Q. One of my pet peeves is when my husband and I are at home at the end of the day, catching up with each other, when the phone rings in the middle of what I am saying and he answers it. Our lives are so busy it feels like we are passing each other as two ships in the night. I wish he would set better boundaries and protect our time together from interruptions. What do you think?

A. Good communication is like the blood of relationships. Every facet of the living organism of your relationship hinges on good, healthy communication. If your blood circulation gets impeded or cut off to any part of your body, that part of your body begins to change color, tingle, or even go numb. If it continues, the part will begin to die, and eventually be forever harmed.

Marriage relationships are a lot like what we just described above. If we permit anything to obstruct communication in any area of our relationship, that part of the relationship will invariably suffer and may even die.

Your question feels like a part of your marriage relationship is on the verge of breaking down. You are right to be concerned about this pattern of communication in your relationship and it needs to be addressed quickly. Yet, you will need much tact to approach this subject with your husband.

Approach this matter with compassion and empathy, rather than with righteous indignation. Find a time that is good for both of you—when you are having fun together—which will make it easier to approach your concern. Use a calm tone of voice with “I” messages rather than “you” messages to help get your point across without accusing him of anything, which will make him feel defensive.

Here’s an example of how you may share your feelings effectively: “Sweetheart, when you pick up the phone in the middle of our conversation, I feel ignored and less important to you than anyone else who might be calling. Do you think you can allow the message to go to voicemail and check it after our conversation has ended?”

Some of the most important moments in marriage or other family relationships should not be allowed to be destroyed by the interruption of a ringing telephone. The same is true for checking email or your social media platforms. Unless you are an emergency room physician on call, practice treating your family time as sacred.

In our family we like to say that since we pay the phone bill we decide when it gets answered. To keep your family life healthy and strong, we encourage everyone to set healthy boundaries around telephone use to keep it from destroying the flow of life in our family.

The Bible reminds us: “…everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19).

You and your husband are in our prayers.

Willie Oliver, PhD, CFLE, an ordained minister, pastoral counselor, and family sociologist, is director for the Department of Family Ministries at the world headquarters of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Elaine Oliver, PhDc, LCPC, CFLE, a licensed clinical professional counselor, educational psychologist, and certified family life educator, is associate director for the Department of Family Ministries at the world headquarters of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

“Good Communication” was first published in Adventist World, March 1, 2024.

Images: freepik

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