The word communication applies to a broad range of interactions. Effective communication is much more specific. Is one-way communication effective? What about communication that ignores the emotions of the hearers? Or communication that doesn’t achieve its intended purpose? My goal in this book is to help you make your communication more effective. Communication experts Susan Heitler and Abigail Hirsch tell us in their book The Power of Two that effective communication does not come naturally. “Talking and listening about sensitive issues in a marriage takes special skills to keep the dialogue connection open and the information flowing smoothly and safely.”
If we choose not to learn and use these special skills, we will invariably settle for ineffective communication. We may miscommunicate by not speaking or listening carefully enough. Miscommunication is a frequent cause of disagreements. We may communicate thoughtlessly by ignoring other people’s needs. We may communicate dishonestly by saying whatever we want to get what we want.
Distorted communication contains exaggerations, extreme dramatizations, and twisted facts. People use passive-aggressive communication when they tell you what you want to hear and then talk behind your back or do exactly what they want to do. Somehow, they “forget” to do what they have promised. Outright aggressive communication includes plenty of blunt, in-your-face comments but little or no genuine concern. Indirect communication beats around the bush without really saying what needs to be said.
I consider myself to be a student of the art of communication because I know it is a critical building block in every healthy relationship. This is not new news. Communication has always been the foundation of every good marriage. Take a look at couples that are doing well, and you will see effective communication. Conversely, if you examine the lives of couples whose relationship is filled with tension and conflict, you will see something quite different. Failure to learn these skills can, tragically, lead to the demise of a marriage.
In this book, we are seeking the clear, convincing communication that carries so much positive potential for relationships. Honest, sensitive, and authentic communication holds the key to getting important messages through to your man. And that wonderful level of communication is available to you.
You Can Get There
We have heard for years that men are from different planets than women and that any meeting of these two minds is virtually impossible. Women communicate from their left brains, we are told, and men from their right brains.
I do not agree with the cynics who tell us that effective communication with men is impossible. I do not think that carrying on a meaningful conversation with your spouse is as unlikely or as chance-driven as winning a mega-million-dollar lottery. If we can land a man on the moon, discover the code to DNA, and find cures for diseases, then we can certainly figure out how men and women can communicate effectively.
Although I am confident that we can find answers, I don’t think they are apt to jump out and bite us on the nose. We must work to discover truths that lead to real listening, real sharing, and real communication. We will need to overcome obstacles. But trust me — they are surmountable.
I encourage you to tune out the views of those who insist that your man will never take you seriously. He can listen. In fact, he really wants to relate to you, and you can make that happen if you follow the advice contained in this book. I have led others down this healing path and can do the same for you. But first you must believe you can get there. We may feel discouraged at times with how our communication is or is not working, but we find comfort in the words of Martin Luther King, who tirelessly preached that “unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality.”
Let’s be clear about this point: Communication is the responsibility of everyone involved. Whether we are talking about a group of people, such as those at your church or workplace, or more intimate encounters between a husband and wife, communication involves all parties. Each must come to the table prepared to engage in honest, effective communication.
After nearly 30 years of clinical experience, I know that rarely does everyone arrive at the table prepared to follow healthy rules for effective communication — the listening and speaking tools that I will share in this book. All too often, the table is lopsided. Too often, only one party (usually the woman) comes prepared for an honest encounter. What is one to do?
In a marriage where only one partner is willing to work hard at healthy sharing, strategies are available for engaging the resistor. Before you sink into despair or start feeling sorry for yourself, rest assured that you will be empowered by the tools offered in this book. How to Get Your Husband’s Attention offers just what the title promises: ways to say what is most important to you so that he will listen, take you seriously, and embark with you on a journey of change.
Is success guaranteed? Yes and no. Can we change other people? Yes and no.
We cannot directly change another person. What we can do is set about to change ourselves and the way we communicate. When we do so, the other partner is much more likely to change. Remember, a marriage and family are dynamic, living organisms, and each part affects the others. When one part changes, the others must change in the process.
Take heart. You can be an instrument of change. In this book, you will learn how to gain the inside track to your man. These tools will be invaluable as you begin changing old, stale patterns of relating.
Taken from How to Get Your Husband’s Attention.
Copyright © 2008 by David Hawkins. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, OR. Used by permission.