We Need to Talk

Men and women have been miscommunicating or not communicating at all for thousands of years. All too often, relationships break down because someone can't "hear" what his or her spouse is trying to say. And all too often, couples give up on a relationship that could have been a success.

Some of these breakdowns stem from basic gender differences. Most people recognize that men and women are inherently different, and think and function differently. Men are often task-oriented and short on conversation, dealing with problems alone; women are often relationship-oriented and eager to talk, especially for the purpose of dealing with problems. In many cases, this requires a couple to learn another language the language of their significant other or spouse.

Other communication issues develop from personality differences. It is said that "opposites attract," and truly they do. Many couples exhibit the classic combination of strong/silent type with a chatty/scattered extrovert or dynamic/driven leader with a gentle/unassuming follower. But the very characteristics that initially attract a man and woman to each other can often become the very elements that drive them apart down the road. Will they choose to make the most of their differences?

A third major cause of communication gaps is background. When two people enter a relationship, they bring their history with them: everything they learned from Mom, Dad and the rest of the family, as well as other life experiences. Such experiences create behavior patterns and mold expectations. Both have the potential to serve as stepping stones to a deeper relationship or stumbling blocks.

In the face of multiple challenges to healthy communication, men and women have a choice. They can work through and learn to celebrate their differences. Marriage is worth more than words. There is hope for the communication-challenged. Cling to it!

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