The concept of being a good communicator is at the heart of what most people would consider to make a good marriage. But whether we are honest in admitting it or not, communication is a difficult concept. The ability to communicate is often affected by family of origin, personal life experiences, context, and a myriad of other factors that make it difficult to define and even begin to consider how to improve on this so called cornerstone of marriage. One of the complications in understanding what it means to communicate and communicate well are the varying expectations of what it means to communicate.
For example, the ways in which we communicate with our barista at our favorite coffee shop should be different than the ways in which we communicate with our great-grandmother. The communicative expectations of our barista are a somewhat need to know basis - he/she needs to know our order and then each of use moves on with our lives. Whereas with our great-grandmother, we communicate amidst the extended history from our first breath to the closest moments of her last. The ways in which we communicate are determined by an otherness of contextualization. We have to acknowledge the other present in each of the moments we need to communicate.
What does this mean for our marriages?
We should not to our husband/wife in either of the ways we talk to our barista or our great-grandmother. The communication with our spouse demands a level of intimacy. In his novel, Santa Biblia, Justo L. Gonzales talks about the ways in which people communicate with the Bible - specifically those on the margins (the focus of his argument was on the Hispanic/Mexican cultures). He makes the following comment about communication:
"Communication is that mysterious bridge where intimacy and otherness meet" (Gonzales, p. 14).
Gonzales's comment should cause all of us to truly look at the ways in which we communicate with our spouses. For so many of us, we forget the idea that no matter how long we have been married or in a relationship with our spouse, there are still things we can learn about them. How do we learn those 'other' things? By communicating. It is when we begin to bridge the gap between what we know and what we want to know that intimacy continues to grow between spouses. We must be willing to say, "Hey. I want to know more about you - more than anyone else. Part of learning is continuing to communicate with you so as to build upon our intimacy."
Intimacy in a relationship is built through trust and affection. Trust requires us to be willing to acknowledge that we must first trust in who we are as individuals so that we can then turn to our spouses. Trusting ourselves means to identify what the Lord says is true about us and begin walking in that peace cycle. We are then able to invest in relationship and give and receive true affection. How do all of these processes begin to happen - COMMUNICATION. The communication between a husband and wife begins in the well-spring of their intimacy and then stretches into what they have yet to learn about one another.
Try it. Think of new things to tell your spouse. Think of new things to ask your spouse. Know that any attempt to foster more healthy communication is an attempt in the direction of trust, affection, and ultimately intimacy. This should be a cycle of evolving relationship. We must always strive to learn new ways to communicate - even in the other.