Why Communication Is Important
Good communication is the lifeline that holds the two of you together and allows all the other important things in married life — sexuality, parenting, financial planning, and community — to flourish. Communication means sharing verbally and nonverbally so that a message is accepted and understood by your partner. Contrary to what many people think, the goal of communication in marriage is not always to produce agreement. In fact, many marriages go on for decades without the partners agreeing on important issues like childrearing styles or financial priorities.
When differences between partners are large and concern vital areas of life, the two partners must negotiate until they reach a compromise between their two diverging points of view. To get to such a compromise, step one is always effective communication, which always involves blame-free talking and active listening. To be effective, active listening requires genuine interest in what your partner is saying. It also requires you to make verbal responses demonstrating that you understand his point of view.
All communication can be broken down into three components: content, tone, and body language (nonverbal cues). Many people assume that content is the largest component of communication since they view most conversation as an exchange of information. You may be surprised to learn that only 7 percent of communication is content, while 38 percent is tone, and a full 55 percent is body language, those nonverbal cues (facial expression, arms crossed or not, shoulders raised or relaxed) by the one delivering the message. These latter two items, tone and nonverbal messages, also tend to be influenced by gender differences.
What is active listening?
It's when you take in what your partner has to say with empathy and compassion. You aim to fully understand him. You don't make judgments about the content of what he says. Because you're not making a judgment, you don't need to agree with what he says. This is a time to make listening to him your only agenda. You are his friend, not a judge.