A few years ago, my wife and I began to notice some pretty big holes in our relationship when it came to talking with one another. We were lacking the power of communication. Now I know what you might be thinking: “Franco, no marriage is perfect and everyone has holes and gaps in their relationship, especially when it come to communication” and the OLD ME would not argue with you.
But that was then……
Let me take a step back for a moment. For years leading up to that moment in time I had a tradition that I would do every year. Around the end of December I would check myself into a hotel room and I would goal set for the next year, free of any distractions. This time, my wife and I decided that it made more sense to do the “Couples Escape” together as a team. So we gathered our materials,* made sure the kids were in good hands, and away we went!
* to learn more about the couples retreat idea email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
During our retreat we committed, as a couple, to communicate more with one another without the fear of being rejected or ignored. That simple decision added so much more real value and love to our life and our marriage.
Sounds a bit strange, right? Well, it was strange! I mean, we had been married for 6 years at this point and together for almost 8. Yet this was the year that we finally started to communicate in a way that led us towards real growth.
Yes, of course, we talked over the years. And yes, we discussed issues. But not like this. You see, what my wife Janea and I realized was that we were hearing each other but we weren’t really listening. We recognized the power of communication and how much we were lacking.
Then we began to really dig deep into our childhood.
For the first time, I actually listened to my wife as she talked about our relationship, the kids, my career, her dreams, religion, and so much more. But what I did differently, was that I listened without having the intent to solve problems, give advice, or game plan. I just let her talk and she did the same for me. And when everything was said and done we realized very quickly that we just graduated to a level of our marriage and friendship that 99% of couples will never get to.
Now when we communicate we actually communicate.
Have you ever been in a situation with your partner where you know something is on their mind and you know they seem off, yet when you ask them it leads to either the most common answer, “nothing” or they get a bit offended, which leads to one or both of you not speaking? Why is that?
Well, I can tell you that when it used to happen with us it was because of my PRIDE. Plain and simple. You see, I grew up in a household where if someone was mad they either YELLED or they became mute and shut off (sometimes for even weeks). I learned, at a very young age, that that was the way to handle a problem.
Side note: I want to apologize to my first wife Sarah, my second serious relationship Rachel, and my last before I got married, Charissa. I was probably the hardest person to deal with in a relationship because I felt that I could do everything by myself and I didn’t need the help or advice from anyone around me (PRIDE). When an argument would take place, I would either FIGHT or I would shut off and not speak. That had to have been frustrating and I am sorry or that!
Now, to my wife Janea. I am so so sorry for the man I was over the pat 8 years of our relationship. I know that I was unwilling to change and I know that I was a difficult person to deal with during times of stress. THANK GOD we did what we did to begin this year because I now know that you, the kids, and our relationship requires my full attention and time.
Growing up, I would hear my mom and dad fight, and nine times out of ten, my mom would just walk away and leave to avoid dealing with the moment. When I say leave, I don’t physically mean leave. I mean shut off and go silent, sometimes for days. Then, after a pretty big fight, I witnessed my dad do something with my mom… and that moment stuck with me forever. My dad grabbed 2 chairs at our dinner table, put them in front of one another, and said to my mom that they were going to sit down, face to face, hold hands and talk until they resolved the issue. To this day, I see that move as the reason my parents are still together today.
We have all learned things from our childhood that are poisonous to our relationships with our partners. You can’t escape this, but what you can do it change it. If not for you, do it for your kids or your future kids. Allow them to see a change that will alter the life they would have had if you continued handling things with your relationship the same way you have always done it.
Change requires you to not only grow, but to be honest with yourself before you can be honest with your partner.
Swallow your pride, ask for help, cry and hug, spend time in prayer and deep thought, but do it TOGETHER instead of alone. If you commit to real change and the power of communication, I can promise you that your next 25 years will be like our last 25 days!
Remember, “Real Love is Delivered with Genuine Consistency.”