Do you have a special term or affectionate nickname for your sweetheart? Most of us do—because the communication between courting partners and couples has a unique and very intimate quality. You likely communicate with each other in different ways than you do with others.
If you’re like most couples, sometimes you’re happy with how your interactions go; other times not so much! The wrong word or tone of voice can create hurt, distance, and anger. We all learn that the skillfulness with which we handle these interactions directly affects the quality of our lives. The more your communications with one another exemplify graceful, loving exchanges and build unity rather than contributing to disunity, the stronger your relationship becomes.
My husband and I have learned that attempting to communicate with one another works best when we feel connected. Sometimes that’s through a hug, a quiet snuggle on the couch drinking a fruit smoothie, time out by the lake, or doing an activity outside of our home. Then we can talk through what is on our minds. In addition, if I give him time to drink coffee in the morning or decompress after work, he can hear me better, instead of my words sounding like noise
We’ve also learned that each word we speak to each other has meaning, not only intellectually but emotionally. Those words and the impressions they make, the Baha’i teachings tell us, reveal how we feel about each other:
Every word is endowed with a spirit, therefore the speaker or expounder should carefully deliver his words at the appropriate time and place, for the impression which each word maketh is clearly evident and perceptible. – Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, pp. 172-173.
Spiritual principles and character qualities affect virtually every communication, verbal or non-verbal, that occurs between the two of you. The purity of motives, the degree of truthfulness, the level of mutual and self-respect, the depth of equality, and much more guide every expression. The more character qualities and virtues you can include in the way you speak to each other, such as patience, respect, or compassion, the better the outcome will be.
You enhance your excellence when you begin with a foundation of unity. You will also find that the better your communications, the more unity you will build between you. It may help you to think of your words and actions as generating “light” when you are focused on creating unity. Visualize darkness, or the absence of light, when your words and actions cause disunity instead. Healthy relationships and marriages thrive on an abundance of light, love, and unity:
As your relationship grows closer and more intimate, you will notice that you communicate in many different ways with your bodies, minds, hearts, and souls. It takes time to develop healthy patterns in your relationship, and ongoing tune-up and maintenance is vital. It is also easy to misunderstand each other or make assumptions about what is being communicated, especially when the message is non-verbal. Checking for true understanding with each other will help to maintain unity. If something bothers you, ask your partner, “Can you share with me what you meant when you said that?” Sometimes a simple explanation will take away any basis for misunderstanding or conflict. It also helps to promptly “clean up” miscommunications and any hurt caused. Remember to acknowledge where you are effective already. In addition, explore where you will benefit from gaining new knowledge, skills, and insights.
We gain our communication patterns from our family growing up, the culture around us, and through our relationship experiences. Each of us in a relationship comes with a history, so blending our histories together often makes communication tough to navigate. The Baha’i teachings ask us to pay attention to content, volume, style, tact, wisdom, and timeliness in ensuring our communications cause good and not harm, unity and not distance.
I’ve learned that my ability to implement these positive, spiritual communication techniques links directly to my own personal well-being. If I’ve prayed, eaten, rested, dealt with urgent issues, and to the best of my ability understood and managed whatever emotions I’m feeling, my communications work better. It also helps me to look at why I want to communicate, and be clear about that with my husband. Sometimes I just need him to listen while I process an experience. Other times we need to consult and problem-solve together.
I’ve also learned that I find great joy in achieving positive, constructive communications with someone close to me. It’s worth the time to learn to do it well.