Turning Conflict into Dialogue Part 1 of 2

Healthy Dialogue is essential to a healthy marriage.

Having been successfully married for 26 years I have come to appreciate a form of communication that helps build a lasting relationship. Dialogue. When I work with couples as a wedding officiant and/or marriage coach the topic of effective communication often arises. So, let’s explore together some key points about something that can have a lasting impact on the quality of your marriage, and may actually keep you together as a couple.

What is healthy dialogue? Basically it is “friendly discussion” in a focused setting. It is important that distractions be eliminated or minimized. (Cell phone off, no computer, no TV, etc. etc. – remember you are building your marriage; other non-life threatening emergencies can wait).

It involves listening without judging what is said. When friends discuss things they do so without judging and tend to give each other the benefit of any doubt. They end up feeling closer when done.

To dialogue is to be truly open to hear the other person’s thoughts and feelings. (This may take work if you are not accustomed to this type of communication.)

Dialogue involves listening intently to what your partner is saying with the idea of: “What can I learn about this unique individual who has an equal part in this marriage?”

The listener does not think of how to respond while the other person is still talking.

Pause/reflect/give the ideas expressed a minute to sink in.

Ask only curiosity questions to deepen and expand your knowledge of where he or she is “coming from”. Questions like, “Could you please rephrase that so I can understand better?” or, “I want to be sure that I understand your point, would you please elaborate further?”

Avoid loaded or “gotcha” questions designed to prove your point or belittle your partner in any way. They are poison to your relationship.

To dialogue is to allow the person to explain things from their perspective in a way that validates their thoughts, feelings and perspectives. Validation is not necessarily agreement. Often you are communicating over something you have not grown to see in the same light. However, it is an acknowledgement of your partner’s personal understanding, thoughts and feelings about any issue at any time.

This approach opens up the door to effective communication and growth together as a couple. It says to your partner, “I value you and your opinion and I want to know how you feel and what makes you ‘tick’.”

(Part 2 coming soon)