Jane felt that her husband was wasteful. He was always giving out money to people ‘in need‘. As soon as he heard their story, he would immediately respond by giving without thinking. Jane knew that most of these stories were lies and an attempt to deceive her husband. Growing up, John’s father worked for a man with a large heart and John attributes his success in life to the fact that this man was always there for them and he said that if God blessed him financially, he would do the same to as many people as he could.
Based on what you have read, who is right or wrong between Jane and John?
We would say none of them. The issue is the absence of effective communication. John, influenced by his background wants to help as many people as possible and Jane is not against helping people but she wants John to do some fact-checking before he gives, to plug unnecessary leaks and avoid wastage. Imagine if John discusses all requests with Jane before he obliges. This would make them ask more questions, probe more to see that requests are genuine. They would help people who are really in need, save more and avoid unnecessary money arguments.
We once knew of a situation where a friend of ours had this guy he used to give money to quite often. Once our friend got married, his wife knew of everything he did. Then she noticed a pattern with this particular guy her husband was assisting. It appears that the guy had figured out what time of the month her husband got paid and he timed all his requests within a 3-day window of that period. She told her husband and they watched and noticed the same pattern play out repeatedly. In this case, they spotted the deception and the leak because they talked about this and many other things.
If marriage were a tree, communication would be the root of the marriage tree. Other issues like Finances, Sex, Relations with Inlaws, etc.. would be the branches. In other words, how healthy the branches are would be determined by how healthy the root is.
Everything about a marriage rises and falls on effective communication. A picture of communication I was taught at a work seminar one year into our marriage has stayed with me since then and it helped our communication in marriage.
In this diagram, North, South, East and West represent people looking at the same picture from different angles. North sees the letter E, South sees the number 3, East sees the letter W and West sees the letter M. While looking at the same picture, they will all bet their lives on what each one was seeing and no one is wrong. Everyone communicates based on their point of view.
We see the world and communicate through the lens of our backgrounds, experiences, the books we have read, the sermons we have listened to and many more and we bring this perspective into our marriage. It is important to understand that husband and wife come with two different views of life and they have to talk about it, converge their points of view and in some cases, agree to disagree.
In the diagram above, for the North to understand what the South is seeing, he will need to move to her position and sometimes, they may both need to move positions to see what the West is seeing; a completely different perspective from what they both saw initially. This is what communication in marriage is all about. Couples need to keep changing positions through engaging in conversations – Talk, talk and don’t stop talking till they begin to see things from each other’s point of view and can now see life from the same lens.
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