Some people are vocally expressive, yet they mean not everything they say. Others know what they want to say, but when the words flow they don’t come out right. Others again don’t like using words at all.
Generally partners to a marriage speak different languages, especially in conflict. And when communication is the nexus of marriage, couples will inevitably struggle to speak a language both can communicate in. There is hope in slowing down so our emotions can keep up.
Every now and then the same issue comes up from a counselling perspective: couples speaking different languages to each other. It seems obvious to me, because of the intensity of the conflict, and the rawness in the emotions, that couples love each other passionately, but they just don’t know how to communicate in a way that meets the other’s need. Added into the mix, just to complicate matters, there is usually a strong theme of emotional baggage that one or both partners carry. We all bear baggage.
With the burden of baggage, and the confounding characteristic of hearing a foreign language spoken to you from a loved one—for instance, your marriage partner—there is no question that you would be frustrated enough to respond in divisive ways.
Our partners, not knowing we cannot decipher their language, continue to speak up, so the volume of their delivery makes it even harder to comprehend. The more confusion, the more emotions are heightened, and the more both partners are being stressed to the extreme.
Slowing Down and Acknowledging the Communication Problem
Acknowledgement is half the issue, perhaps even more. It’s a good broad general rule. Wherever we acknowledge something as a problem we have arrived at the first step in dealing with it.
The best thing we can do when our emotions are awry, and we scream from within, and we hear echoes of rage from without, is to simply stop. We slow down. We break everything down to slow motion parts. When we are intensely angry, we use the power in our minds to tell ourselves to relax, for no one can tell us to do something when we are feeling this way.
When couples find they are communicating in different languages—where both are being misunderstood—and the other seems to be communicating mixed or even hypocritical messages—we must slow the process, the flow, and the delivery, and lessen the detail within the information.
Then we have a chance at understanding, eventually.
To slow down is to love the relationship as much as we love and fight for ourselves.
Relationship conflict is confounded most of all by partners speaking different languages to each other. At times of high confusion it is best to slow down; to stop and reflect; to imagine the calamity from safe distance. We acknowledge we are speaking in different languages to each other. And then, slowly, we begin to tackle the conflict again, always being ready to slow down so our emotions can keep up, so anger is held at bay.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.