a Great Marriage with Healthy Communication
by Douglas Cowan, Psy.D.
Would you like to have a stronger, healthier,
more fulfilling marriage? I am sure that you,
like most people, would answer "yes"
to this question. Yet we live in a culture
where about half of all marriages will end
in a divorce, leaving behind the wreckage
of broken adults and wounded children.
we are to build healthy marriages, we much do
so "on purpose." We cannot just hope
that it will happen by accident. "Hope,"
say the generals, "is not a good strategy."
Planning, work, and the investment of time are
much better strategies for any important endeavor
build a healthy marriage, we need to consider
how we talk to our spouse, and the way that
we talk about our spouse to others. Healthy
marriages are characterized by supportive, encouraging,
and honest communication. We want to build each
other up in our marriages, never tear our spouse
down (especially under the guise of being "honest").
thousand years ago, the apostle Paul wrote this
verse that is worthy of every refrigerator door
in America, "Don't let any unwholesome
talk come out of your mouths, but only what
is helpful for building others up, according
to what they need, so that you can benefit those
are three important lessons to learn from this
verse. First, if we don't have something good
to say, don't say anything (I think my mother
also told me that). Second, we should consider
our listener's needs. My wife has different
needs than does my daughter, or my sons. We
should consider how best to encourage and support
each person. Finally, the purpose of our talking
in the first place should be to benefit the
I first started to seriously apply these principles,
and honestly think about what I was saying and
why I was saying it, my vocabulary and the amount
of time I spent talking were cut by about one-third.
I had become sarcastic, but funny. But my funny
sarcasm was always at someone else's expense.
When I determined to build others up and benefit
them with my speech, I talked a lot less. But
I became a much better person, both inside and
your motives. If you just want to make yourself
look good, you will tend to be sarcastic, and
you will tend to tease other people by degrading
them in front of others. As a result, your friends
will consider your "teasing" as shameful,
and your spouse and your children will grow
distant from you. It may cost you your marriage.
on the other hand, your motives are to build
up and encourage your spouse and children, then
speak words of support, love, and praise to
them directly, as well as about them to others.
Your friends will view you as a loving person,
and your spouse and children will always want
to be near you. They will love to hear you talk,
as your words will be like honey to them.
carefully how you use your words. You have the
power to build up, or to tear down, by the word
Cowan, Psy.D., is a family therapist who
has been working with ADHD children and their
families since 1986. He is the clinical director
of the ADHD Information Library's family of
seven web sites, including http://www.newideas.net,
helping over 350,000 parents and teachers learn
more about ADHD each year. Dr. Cowan also serves
on the Medical Advisory Board of VAXA International
of Tampa, FL., is President of the Board of
Directors for KAXL 88.3 FM in central California,
and is President of NewIdeas.net
The Bible, Ephesians 4:29