Recently, a friend said to me, “I put Dorothy in the freezer. She died during the night, and even though we worked through the issue with our daughter that she was dying, I failed to ask her what I should do with the body this morning. I put her in the trash, and then thought our daughter might want to bury her in the backyard, so I decided to put her in the freezer until a decision is made.”
That just hit me in my ‘funny spot.’ “You did what?!” I said … as I was laughing. Now, I knew that Dorothy was the pet hamster, but in the freezer?
Isn’t it so true that we easily misconstrue comments and emails? Our minds can be going down one path, or hear one thing, and the intent could have been totally different. Think of the rabbit trail that our minds could have taken with the statement, “I put Dorothy in the freezer.” Especially in our age of technology, where we are often not face-to-face when conversing, misconceptions and miscommunications flourish.
THE VALUE OF GOOD COMMUNICATION
Our individual communication styles are a fodder for miscommunications. Marriage and Family Therapist Rev. Dr. David Ludwig identifies two communication styles – a person who processes things internally is labeled a “Pointer,” and someone who processes externally, a “Painter.” These opposites of the communication spectrum actually attract one another, but let me tell you, there is a lot of disharmony that can take place between them. Dr. Ludwig writes, “Painters will notice everything around them and keep it all in their mind at once, while Pointers will focus on the task at hand. In conversation, Painters will paint an entire picture to get to a point, while Pointers will state the entire point right up front.”*
When it comes to family, it is critical that to know each other’s communication style and WORK at understanding how to communicate effectively. My husband and I have been married for 43 years; we have studied communication and we teach communication, but there are still times when there is disharmony in our marriage because we can’t, or refuse to, give the other what they need.
RESOURCING THE CHRISTIAN FAMILY
The church can be a great resource to the Christian home in this area. The church uplifts, teaches, and supports the home so that the parents can carry out their God-given mandate to be the leaders and bring their children to know (really know) the Lord. “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” Proverbs 22:6 (ESV).
Helping couples communicate effectively on the front end of their marriages, might cause less recuperative work because of disharmony caused by misconceptions and miscommunication. Perhaps, that may even help cut down on divorce, and help the children feel safe, comforted, cared for, and listened to.
Good, healthy communication is one of the topics taught in the Family Life program at Concordia University Ann Arbor. The Concordia Center for the Family upholds churches and organizations that walk alongside with the Christian family.
Jennifer Freudenburg is the Project Manager for the Family Life Program/ Concordia Center for the Family at Concordia University Ann Arbor.