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Women Who Win

 Communication—How ?

Husband : “Did you find the key? It was not to be found anywhere. I searched all over including the storeroom lock which you opened.” (His quivering lips betray his irritation).

Wife : “Yes, it was in my hand bag” (feeling the pinch).

Husband : (With deliberate and artificial polite- ness) “It is so difficult to hang it in the key rack, isn’t  it? Even after so many years!”

Wife : (Getting the point). “Yes we straight- away started eating and I had to walk over to the bedroom to hang it. I didn’t lose it anyway. It was in my bag (She should have stopped here probably; but she continued). Anyone else can do it, but in a house where even a glass of water has to be fetched by me . . .”

Husband : This is the last time I am asking about the key. I’ll  never repeat it and I’ll  never ask for a glass of water. (She could read his B.P. going  up).

She wishes she had kept her mouth shut. But that would have been her gravest error. Already in incidences where she kept quiet the reaction was worse.   “Why are you silent? This is what I don’t like ...” (a lecture for two minutes).

Now where has she failed? She cannot keep her mouth shut nor can she talk freely. Where is the barbed wire boundary? How does she communicate effectively? This conversation is ensued by a cold war. She tries to hurry up and bring his water before he asks and he tries to avoid asking her. They tiptoe around on eggshells.

Such conversations are everyday affairs. My husband  and  I  were  staying  with  a  couple  who hardly talked to each other. The reason they gave : “To  avoid  problems!”  They  hardly  realised  they were making war, not peace.

Communication is the ability to express oneself clearly and receive messages accurately. Learning that art is more difficult than learning Bharathanatiyam. That’s the reason why many give up all too soon. Nothing strengthens marriage like communication. Communication is the channel through which you convey a bit of yourself to the spouse, and that’s the essense of a  vibrant marriage — getting to know your partner. There is no lonlier person than the one who lives with a spouse with whom he/she cannot communicate.

Some are talkative and others uncommunicative. The quiet partners should learn to verbalise their thoughts instead of living in their own private world. “What  a  bad  night  I’ve  had,  mosquitos,  sweat,” you think. Bring it out of your rigid skull and you’ll find camaraderie building up.

Communication may be studied under four divi- sions for convenience.

Routine  Talk

The husband calls, “aiye” from a room and the wife shouts back, “aaah” from the kitchen. Certainly there is a better way of addressing and responding. Sometime you should seriously sit and ask the other how he/she would like to be addressed or responded to.

There are always two ways of saying the same thing. You can either ask, “ Is breakfast not ready yet? What were you doing all this time?” Or, say, “Shall we eat now or shall we wait for some more time?” It makes the difference between chilly and Kit-kat. 

I-am-the-boss curt sentences strangle rela- tionships. Even the tone and volume are important.

Foul words are like the worst dirt in mouth. Everytime we utter a foul word we ought to wash our mouth with soap and water and rinse with Listerene. That’s  the only way to tame our tongues (Eph 4:29). Children absorb them like sponge.

Constant criticism about dress, food, hairstyle tear marriages apart. When I sit my husband says, “Sit gently.” When I sit gently, he says, “Sit straight.” When I sit straight and tell him I am uncomfortable he says, “No, you cannot be uncomfortable. According to engineering principles you must be com- fortable.” Sometimes I go mad. But both of us are improving.


Responding harshly to a tirade is like pouring acid on water. A gentle answer is deodorant to nasty behaviour (Prov 15:1). “He who gives a right answer kisses the lips” (Prov 24:26). A catharsis of com- plaints at the arrival of the spouse, indirect statements, talking through children, etc, set off sparks. The secret for women is : “ If you talk like a queen he’ll treat you like a servant. If you talk like a servant, he’ll  treat you like a queen.”

Cheer in the face, jokes in the mouth and songs in the lips keep the atmosphere light. That will keep more kids inside home at night than the strictest curfew. Make a conscious effort to be pleasant. “Pleasant words are like honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones” (Prov 16:24). It is as much as for your own spiritual and physical well- being as for the members of the household.


Chats are quiet times of conversation much much lacking in modern homes. Togetherness atleast an hour a day when you can simply talk without a serious note glues the family. Busy people and ministers of God who don’t have a fixed 8 hour work schedule must be wary. Wherever possible a walk or relaxing on the terrace is conducive for conversation. A walk is best to get fresh air and exercise and to escape visitors. It is a triple benefit scheme! Topics of mutual interest bring partners close together.

Listening is as much an art as talk- ing. When one brings up a subject, challenging him/ her immediately is like giving an injection. Listening patiently and responding calmly helps him unburden himself. Facial expressions, contributions and gentle contradictions are important but a chat is better not developed into an argument. A dinner out now and then fixes the cracks in the love-hate relationship as it promotes unhurried relaxed private conversation.

Recounting the day’s activities in detail can supply fodder for your chats. TV serials or a cas- sette may be fillers.

Corrosives of free chat are obloquy, sniping, sensitiveness, swinging moods, overwork, hurry, closedness or withdrawal, lack of interest, misunder- standings, uncleared old hurts, ego and the like. All around, colourful families are disappearing like fad- ing rainbows for want of chats. Repaint your rainbows.

An agreement like “If I hurt you please tell me” makes both sensitive to the other’s feelings. It brings up  the  question,  “What’s  the  use  of  apologising again and again?” Apologising 70 times 7 is laying down 490 stones for a solid salubrious relationship.

It is not a must that all things be shared to the partner. A wise person will gauge the capacity of the partner and share according to his/her ability to take in. But honesty and faithfulness are a must. Never alllow grass to grow on the path to friendship.


Discussion is said to be an exchange of intelli- gence,  and  argument  an  exchange  of  ignorance. One-sided  decisions on major issues are not healthy. They need to be discussed and decided. Bipolarity of husband and wife is not a negative factor. In fact the saying is, “Where two people agree on every- thing one of them is unnecessary.” So don’t be distraught if your discussions go round and round .

Earlier my husband and I used to swallow our feelings to avoid quarrelling, but now we bring them into the open and discuss them. This way we are learning to understand each other better, hurt each other less and seek forgiveness quickly before the withdrawal syndrome begins.

Clarity about the point to be discussed and sticking to it without sidetracking is important. For example, while discussing money management, going on to what you inherited from parents can subtly divert your attention and end unpleasantly.

Discussions should never gallop to fights. Jump- ing about like a decapitated cock only defeats the purpose though you may be right (Prov 18:2). Fire and brimstone expressions make it hard for the spouse to listen and respond. Keep emotions down; they should not have the last word. “Lord, where we are wrong, make us willing to change; where we are right, make us easy to live with,” prayed Peter Marshall.

Finally, concede graciously if the other is right. The most powerful words before marrige are, “I love you;” after marrige, “May be you are right.” It is not his view or her view. In a discussion, the final outcome is a conglomeration of views and ideas.

More often you seem to arrive at nothing. Don’t worry. The ability of two to disagree without hurting each other is a mark of their sound relationship.


A fighting husband and wife are like a sym- phony gone wild. Shouting matches may be consid- erably reduced or even eliminated.

When something goes boom in your chest the natural tendency is to erupt abruptly. A few days or even a few hours of waiting can considerably cool down wrath and make a person more fit for the collision. Prayer sharpens one's  mind and endows him with the wisdom most needed for the occasion. The partner will be better prepared if the subject is broached as, "There's something I would like to discuss with you. Can we sit after dinner to discuss it?"

Here are some DONT'S  for fights-

o Don't become subjective. Stay objective. Instead of attacking your partner address the problem. "You betrayed me before your friends" is not the same as, "I was hurt and felt betrayed before your friends." Here you are pointing your finger at the problem, not your spouse. That way it is easier for the spouse to see your hurt without becoming defensive.

o Jumping  to  conclusion  and  offering  a  quick solution only overloads the dam. The floodgate should be opened to ease the tension. Talking or shouting at the same time benefits no one. Give a sympathetic ear. "We are born with our eyes closed and  mouth  open  and  we  spend  our  whole  lives trying to reverse that mistake of nature," says Dale Turner.

o Judging  the  other's  motives  escalates  the  ten- sion. Accept and believe explanations unless you have strong evidence against the matter. Lying, cheating, twisting facts and hiding only rub raw wounds. The price is rewarding for the practice of honesty  and  openness  (Mt  5:37).  Otherwise    the loss of trust undermines the marriage.

o Counterattack is the natural tendency. "You do the  same"  or  "I  can  say  a  hundred  things  about you" leads you nowhere. That may be true, but must be dealt with on another occasion.

o Words that wound deeply like, "I don't love you" or "I shouldn't  have married you"   or "We better divorce" go deep into the soul. "Among my most prized possessions are words that I have never spoken,"  says  Orson  Rega.  Words  that  heal  are plenty in the dictionary. Why not use them? They cost you nothing and make you rich.
o Many fights are because we assume the other somehow knows. Take for example the wife who fights because the husband didn't  take her out. " I was ready to go out." "But you should have told me." "Can't you see I am dressed up?" "???" Birth- days and Wedding Anniversaries are not worth fighting over. Remind in time and the problem is solved.

o I-am-right-you-are-wrong approach robs one of the benefits of fight. It is the late Chief Minister of Tamilnadu Mr. C.N. Annadurai who said, "The jas- mine  in  the  neighbour's  garden  also  has  scent!" Step outside your skin and see the other's point of view.

o Blanket statements are blocks to communication. "You don't  love me" means nothing. Tell the other when he/she failed to express love and how.

There are certain POSITIVE  things one should look into in a fight.

o A simple, frank, uncomplicated approach is best. A diplomatic approach backfires.

o Give each other something that most friendships are not able to give- vulnerability. Those who hate to hurt others do not help their spouses to grow by telling the truth. The one who hates to get hurt, the high strung, will not grow to maturity as he/she will unconsciously shut the partner's  mouth.

o Clearly spelling out what is in the mind is grease for communication. "You don't understand me," "You don't  like me" are vague statements and only con- fuse the other. Instead, "I was upset that you made fun of my figure," focuses your point. When in doubt, ask; don't  be wondering.

o Ego  should  not  hold  a  person  from  a  due apology. Sit by your partner's side, hold her hands, look into her eyes and say, "I am terribly sorry. Will you please forgive me? I will try to improve"     (Prov 17:9).

o Keep  down  any  fight  at  discussion  level  and never allow it to grow into a fight. If things go beyond  you,  then  by  mutual  agreement  seek  the help of a counsellor.

Let us play a game on a 365 square board, that will make our lives one long exciting trip. Whether it is routine talk, chat, discussion or fight, see who beats the other in politeness in each square. The loser should suitably award the winner at Christmas. Wish you a very garrulous New Year and a prize- winning  Christmas  !                                

   Address for Correspondence & Contributions:

Lilian Stanley
13 Church Colony
Vellore 632006, India
Tel: +91 9843511943
Email: lilianstanley@gmail.com