COMMUNICATION IN MARRIAGE By Showunmi Dotun www.booksget.blogspot.com COMMUNICATION IN MARRIAGE Conflicts occur in most human organizations, and marriage that the rate at which marriages hit the rock is alarming. The effect of this phenomenon on homes and the society at large is devastating. Conflicts could emanate from various factors, but it has been observed that communication breakdown or entire lack of it is a major cause of most conflicts. Against this background, there is a need to be aware of the role that communication could play in enhancing marital harmony. Communication in marriage is emotional, spiritual and physical in nature. Effective communication is one of the tools for enhancing marital harmony. Communication is at the heart of any relationship be it familial, business, romantic or friendly. Communication is the activity of conveying meaningful information; it requires a sender, a message, and an intended recipient, although the receiver need not be present or aware of the sender’s intent to communicate at the time of communication; thus communication can occur across vast distance in time and space. Communication requires that the parties share an area of communicative commonality. Conflicts occur in most organizations, and the home is not an exception. It is observed that the rate at which conflicts occur is alarming. Generally speaking, conflicts could emanate from various factors, but it has been observed that communication breakdown or entire lack of it is a major cause of most conflicts. Communication determines our relationship in life. Counselors and other social workers should not be left out in acquiring necessary communication skills. I believe that it is the information provided that the counselor uses in bringing solution to the client. Hence, pragmatism should be embraced in developing communication skills What is Communication? Communication is the process of exchanging information, ideas, thought, feelings and emotions, through speech, signals, writing or behavior. In other words, it is a means by which people and things are linked together in any situation to achieve a purpose. In communication process, a sender (encoder) encodes a message and then using a medium (channel) sends it to the receiver (decoder) who decodes the message and then using a send back appropriate feedback (reply) using a medium. Types of Communication: Most animals communicate with each other in some way. Dogs bark at those they perceive as a threat in order to communicate their hostility and in some cases the threat that they will attack if provoked; bees have a pouch in which they carry the scent of their hive so as to identify themselves as members of the community. However, it is only in human that communication is broken down into: Verbal and non-Verbal, and formal and informal. People communicate with each other in a number of ways that depend upon the message, its context in which it is being sent. Choice of communication channel and style of communication of information, messages, opinions, speech and thoughts can be done via different forms of modern communication media such as telephone, e- mail, and mobile devices. Some of the basic ways of communication are by speaking, singing, sign language, body language, touch and eye contact. These basic ways of communication are used to transfer information from one entity to other. There are four basic types of communication and each of them shall be discussed. 1 Verbal Communication: Verbal communication refers to the form of communication in which message is transmitted verbally; communication is done by word of mouth and a piece of writing. Objective of every communication is to have people understand what we are trying to convey. In verbal communication, the message must be kept short and simple. The communicator must not assume that the other person understands what he is passing across. He must put himself on the other side of the table and think from the receiver’s point of view. Would he understand the message? How it would sound on the other side of the table? As earlier said verbal communication includes sounds, words, language and speaking. Language is said to have originated from sounds and gestures (Benjamin, 1987). There are many languages spoken in the world. The bases of information are- genders, class, profession, geographical area, age group and other social elements. Speaking is an effective way of communication (Bailey, 2009). Verbal communication is further divided into oral and written communication. (a) Oral Communication: This is the ability to explain and present your ideas in clear languages to diverse audiences. This includes the ability to tailor your delivery to a given audience, using appropriate styles and approaches, and an understanding of the importance of non- verbal cues in oral communication. Oral communication requires the background skills of presenting audience awareness, critical listening and body language. In oral communication, communication is influenced by pitch, volume, speed and charity of speaking. The oral communication has the following as advantages, namely, it brings quick feedback. In a face to face conversation, by reading facial expression and body language one can guess whether he/she should trust what’s being said or not. (b) Written Communication: Written communication is writing the words which you want to communicate. A written message may be printed or hand written. In written, communication message can be transmitted via e-mail, letter, report, memo etc. Message in written communication is influenced by the vocabulary and grammar used, writing style, precision and clarity of the language used. The written communication can be edited and amended many times before it is communicated to the second party to whom the communication is intended. Good written is essential for business purpose. It is considered core among business skill. Written communication provides record for every message sent and can be saved for later study. A written message enables receivers to fully understand it and send appropriate feedback. 2 Non-verbal Communication: Non-verbal communication is the sending or receiving of wordless message. It involves physical ways of communication, like, tone of the voice, touch, smell, and body motion. Creative and aesthetic non-verbal communication includes singing, music, dancing and sculpturing. Symbols and sign language are also included in non-verbal communication. Body language is a non-verbal communication. Body posture and physical contact convey a lot of communicating verbally to someone. Folded arms and crossed legs are some of the signals conveyed by a body posture. Physical contacts like shaking hands, pushing, patting, and touching express the feeling of intimacy. Facial expressions, gestures and eye contact are all different ways of communication. Reading facial expressions can help in knowing a person better. Non-verbal communication requires background skills such as audience awareness, personal presentation and body language. Most communication is non-verbal, our body language, expression on our face, and tones of voice give others more information that what is said. Borg (2008) attests that human communication consists of 93% body language while only 7% of communications consists of words themselves. 3 Formal Communication: In formal communication, certain rules, conventions, and principles are followed while communicating message. Formal communication occurs in formal and official style. Usually professional setting, corporate settings, conferences undergoes in and foul language is avoided and correct pronunciation is required. Authority lines are needed to be followed in formal communication. 4 Informal Communication: Informal communication is done using channels that are in contrast with formal communication channels. It’s just a casual talk. It is established for societal affiliations of members in an organization and face-to-face discussions. It happens among friends and family. In informal communication, the use of slang words, foul language is not restricted. Usually, it is done orally and using gestures. It doesn’t follow authority line. In an organisation, it helps in finding out staff grievances as people express more when talking informally. It helps in building relationships (Egan, 1990; Okoli, 2007). Communication process: Communication is the only avenue through which both the counselor and the client (s) as in guidance and counseling convey or share thoughts, ideas, feelings and opinion before any change in behavior can be affected. Communication is the only successful way of enlightening clients in diaspora about all the various services available in time of educational, vocational and personal -socio each time we interact, there is a communication process taken place. These include the following: 1 There is a speaker/sender of the message: The speaker or the client, it depends on who is talking at the time the message is being encoded and the decoder need a lot of effort to carry themselves along so as to achieve the set goals. 2 The message: This is the issue to be discussed. The speaker must keep the message simple and sensible. The message in addition to the earlier mentioned qualities must be clear, timely, meaningful and applicable to the situation. Message can be lead to communication breakdown and a waste of time. For effective communication, all barriers must be removed. 3 The channel: The commonest channel is the face-to-face interpersonal interaction (Adedipe, 1991). All other channels like E- mails, report, memo, telephone etc. in addition to face-to-face verbal interactions have their advantages or disadvantages (Osarenren, 2007). The channel must be devoid of distractions and be accessible. 4 The receiver: This is the target of the communication skill without when any communication takes place. Without a listener, or receiver to all the verbal expressions of the speaker, the process of communication is hindered. 5 Feedback: Feedback presupposes that the client will of necessary respond to the counselor’s questions or information. Feedback is enhanced by the level of understanding of the message put across by the sender. For a credible feedback, the message should be delivered in carefully worded formats so that complication can be avoided. Source Sends Areas of Au common Interpret understanding Communication styles: There are three main communication styles as we try to send or receive our messages. These include: 1. Passive Communication: This is a communication style in which one puts the rights of others before his/her own personal rights, minimizing one’s worth at all costs. In this style, there is less talk but action is noted. 2. Assertive Communication: This is a communication style in which one stands up for his rights. While still respecting the rights of others. Here the communication tries to create mutually satisfying solutions. Here we communicate our needs clearly and forthrightly. 3. Aggressive Communication: This is the communication style in which you stand up for your rights but you violate the right of others. Aggressive communication always involves manipulation. We may attempt to make people do what we want by inducing guilt or by using Intimidation and control tactics (Holmes and Sachs, 2007) Techniques for effective communication: Communication does not just happen. Effective communication requires effective strategies and techniques. To be effective, strategy must take the following factors into account simultaneously, namely, our goals and objective, operational constraints and imperatives i.e. things we must do and things we cannot do and finally, we must put into account the pertinent environmental conditions consists of the ideas that your publics have about you and your objectives. Our public’s perception is our reality. This section of the paper is going to articulate some of the techniques for effective communication. If these techniques are followed, surely success is not far away. 1. Listening: Listening is not the same as hearing. It involves paying attention to what is being said and trying to understand the message. Most people think they are good listener; but in fact, most people are better talkers than listener. Listening is rated as the second most effective way to communicate and gain your set objective (Holmes, 2004). It takes real discipline to be a natural listener. A good listener is attentive. He stays focused on what is being said (verbal and non- verbal) and listens to the whole message; avoid making assumptions or drawing early conclusions. In addition, a good listener is non- judgmental. He puts aside personal perceptions or prejudice towards the subject matter or the speaker. At interval, a listener asks questions to clarify what is being using open and impartial questions. He validates what is being said by acknowledging the speaker (s) feeling and thoughts, and accept not necessarily agreeing with their opinions. He restates and paraphrases to check for understanding and demonstrate that he his listening. We must not commit the mistake of thinking that communication is only a one way street. Apart from speaking your mind out, communication is also about listening and that too very carefully. Focus on what they are saying and reflect on that conversation later. This will send out a message to them that you are grasping their point and they should do the same when you are speaking. (a) Passive Listening: This is listening with one ear tuned to television set or something else and one ear tuned to the conversation at hand. Conversion wanders back and forth. Many fall into this bad habit as they try to do too much in this busy and complex world. (b) Active Listening: This requires silent involvement. The whole body is active, supplying direct eye contact, a warm smile, and body action that emits energy and expresses support. Complete concentration a clear, open-mind is required. Positive active listeners are welcome anywhere while negative passive listeners are shunned. (c) Judgmental Listening: This is a way of listening which the person concerned filter in action. These filters in the form of prejudgments act as barricades. You can never be exactly sure where the listener’s decision-making process stands. A judgmental listener is always balancing current facts on the table with the experiences in his or her memory bank. (d) Non Judgmental Listening: This is the ability to listen carefully, analyse the presenter’s message, and put it into the best possible light before comparing the value objectively with the listeners position, is a real art. The objective required in non-judgmental listening builds trust between parties. Listening is the hardest of the communication skills to master. Once mastered, you will be welcome anywhere and accomplish more in life than you dreamed possible. Listening gives you valuable information about your family and business enterprises. The information your loves ones share should not be ignored, even when you don’t like it or understand it. Communication keeps us connected to family, community and the world at large. This helps reduce stress and crises. 2. Expression: Honesty is very important here. Wherever you are expressing yourself, talking truthfully and honesty will send out a signal that you trust your audience. Speak clearly and properly. The speaker needs to be precise about the subject that he is speaking on. He should not beat around the bush. The audience should not be confused in order not to defeat the purpose of the communication. The speaker should express himself very well. 3. Understand the audience: We need to understand our audience, as they are ones for whom we are speaking. A speaker should send out his message until he is sure that the audience will grasp what he saying. Failure to understand the audience sometimes turns a healthy conversion into an argument. Arguing does nothing, but waste one’s precious time. A speaker should try to avoid getting into such situations. 4. Feedback: Its one of the common occurrence at work place that a colleague does exactly opposite to what you want him to do. You keep wondering why he has done so. What we need is to take feedback. Without taking proper feedback, you wouldn’t know the perceptive of the person in front of you. Only through feedback you will know why he or she did not do, what they were asked to do. 5. Questioning: Questioning is a useful skill designed to elicit information and self disclosure from the client. Two types of questions are often asked during counseling, namely, open-ended and close ended. Open questions according to Drab (2006) are questions designed to assist the client in clarifying or exploring thoughts and feelings. Close ended questions on other hand limit the nature of the response to only yes or no brief answers. The best approach is to follow a response to an open-ended question with a paraphrase which encourages the client to share more and avoid repetition. PRINCIPLES OF EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION AND MARITAL STABILITY A study of human communication can be both a complex task and at the same time a very simple one. This is so because anything a man does in the presence of others communicates something to them, whether we intend it or not. Man is distinct from animal by unique sophistication of his ability to communicate with other; to receive meaning from the words and actions of others and to transfer meaning via words and actions. Communication in marriage is a constant exchange of information and messages between a couple by spoken words, written words, symbols, body gestures and facial expressions. Communication is the life wire and the pillar of marriage, without which there will be constant quarrels. Communication cannot be overemphasized; it is the determining factor in achieving functional adjustment. The relevance of effective communication in marriage engenders good living, peace and tranquility. In addition, effective communication encourages adjustment, understanding, unity and harmony. Communication is crucial to effective and productive marriage and when it fades away marriage may becomes shaky. When there is crisis, the ability to communicate with one another makes such problems manageable. The damaging role that poor communication can play was clearly demonstrated in a study by Fower and Hospsin (1999). They identified areas of marital functioning that differentiated between sexually compatible and incompatible couples based on sexual satisfaction of three most important areas of functioning, two involved communication. These were spouses that find themselves comfortable in sharing information with each other and their willingness to recognize and resolved conflicts between them. Omojola (1996) discovered that poor communication was the leading problem among distressed couples. The ability to communicate effectively is necessary for a successful marriage. The partners should be able endeavor to discuss openly and freely whenever they have problem because differences and difficulties are inevitable in marriage. As long as two people can keep the lines of communication open and freely express their feeling, difference can be resolved. Adeniran (1998) in his study on the impact of negative communication our marriage stability agree that the root cause of a total breakdown of communication between couples is due to immaturity and incompatibility. He concluded that the best way to avoid this kind of destructive erosion of relationship is to keep the lines of communication open through high level of maturity which will enable adjustment for a stable marriage. Olayinka (2005) asserted that both husband and wife not grudge against each other if they wish to maintain a stable marriage. Both of them should agree in principle that the channel of communication for amicable settlement of difficulties and disagreements are kept open and the guilty partner should be ready to accept his or her fault and apologized. There are principles that can help couples to communicate effectively. These include: 1. Choice Of Time Human beings operate in moods, joy, happiness, tiredness, sadness, fear, pressures, frustration are all part of life and they manifest in every human being at one time or the other. Our reactions to issues will to a large extent depend on what we are going through at a given time. Effective communication calls for couples to watch each other’s mood before bringing up issues especially sensitive ones, if we are interested in result-oriented discussions. 2. Choice Of Words Our choice of words is crucial if couples want to maintain a healthy communication system in the home. Using harsh and unpleasant words will only fuel discord in the family. Our choice of words becomes problematic most of the time when we attack the personality of our partners instead of addressing the issue at hand. Couples should use positive words that are capable of building love, affection and self-esteem. 3. Choice of Tone It is not good to raise voice when speaking with one’s marriage partner especially when dealing with sensitive issues. Loud and angry voice will force other partner to retaliate and this will breed unimagined arises. It is better for couple to speak to one another with soft tone that will show more of love, gentleness, calmness rather than anger. It will also reduce the tension that fuels self- defence and aggression. Getting angry at each other will not help a couple sort out their difference, it will only increase the “temperature” of the house. 4. Closeness Close to the choice of time, words and tone is the idea of closeness. A couple that does things together like sleeping, eating, praying, talking together etc will have more opportunities for effective communication. The closer they are to one another the better for their marriage. 5. Use of Pluralistic Language One of the ways of reducing marital instability is the use of pluralistic language. When raising issues we ought to use words like, “we”, “us” or “our”. These words create and build solid relationship in marriage. It will also create a strong a sense of identity, unity and belonging. The usage of pluralistic language will keep the line of communication open with greater opportunity to influence our partner for good. 6. Concentrate On Issue And Not Personalities It happens that a couple will start a simple discussion and it will degenerate into an attack-verbal and physical. For example, when a spouse said thus, “Only irresponsible men do such a thing” “Even a house help can prepare better food” These and many others are negative statements made consciously or unconsciously by couples concerning their partners. Since they concentrate on personalities and not on issues they lead either to fighting or withdrawal, and as such effective communication becomes impossible. For couples to concentrate on issue and not on personalities there must be: I. Mutual respect for each other. If one respects his wife, he will not want to insult her and vice-versa. II. Every couple must discipline himself/herself to hold his/her anger when faced with an unpleasant situation. III. Couple must look inward. At times a recurring unpleasant action in marriage has been found to be a reaction to corresponding unpleasant behaviours. Ability to look inward will help each couple to make necessary adjustment and change his/her life. 7. Appreciation The importance of appreciation in marriage via communication cannot be over emphasized. Many homes have been destroyed because of the partners has refused to play his/her role effectively because the other does not see anything good in what he/she does. For example, man who brings home a basket of tomatoes for his wife does it not because of selfishness, but to express his love and care for his family and it has a lot to do with self-esteem. When such a man is appreciated verbally and genuinely, he will be spurring to do more. “Thanks for this food” “I love you” “Thanks for the text, the message is excellent” “This house is clean, God bless you” The more you emphasis the positive and appreciate it, the more negative will be taken care of. Fundamentals of good communication: There is no single right or wrong way to communicate. Each individual has the opportunity to develop their own approach and achieve success their way. There are three things to note in good communication. They are: Be a positive person: Being a positive person requires building a positive mental attitude. Develop a plan and live it. One has to be positive about it. This positive approach adds a zest to one’s life and will do same to the one hearing us. The best part is that the speaker will achieve more in the future than today. Develop and project a genuine interest in others: A speaker (Counselor as the case may be) should develop and project a genuine interest in others in his daily practice. This will help in getting results in others. Once a genuine interest is developed in other, all doors will open wider. Move forward with confidence and set your goals high; most people make the mistake of setting their goal in life too low. It is not the lack of talent that holds them back. It is the lack of vision. We must set lofty goals and move forward with the confidence that you can reach any goal you set for yourself. ACHIEVING EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION The barrier considered above can prevent the sender from conveying his message to receiver, but thus cannot happen. They are to overcome the barriers and achieve effective communication. Some of the useful ways to do so are: Seek to Clarity Your Ideas Before Communication Prime reason for ineffective communication is the result of the initiator not having a clear concept of what he intends communicate in the first place. Thus efforts should be made to systematically analyse the problem or ideas to be communicated and consider the capacity of those who will receive the message. Examine The Trade Purpose of Each Communication Before you communicate, ask yourself what really you want to accomplish, obtain information, initiate action, identify your goal and adapt language, tone and approach to some of the specific objective. The sharper the focus of your message, the better its chances of success. Use Receptive, Simple Language Simple message often get the best results. The simpler the message, the more likely it will be understood and acted on properly. Be Mindful While You Communicate Your tone of voice, your expression, other forms of non-verbal communication all have tremendous impact on your audience. These often affect a listener’s reaction even more than the basis content or a message. Be Empathetic This means putting yourself figuratively, in another person’s place. Consideration of other person’s interest needs the habit of trying to look at thing from his point of view will frequently point up. Opportunities to convey something of immediate benefit to the people will be more responsive t an empathetic manager. Follow-up Your Communication Otherwise your best efforts may be wasted. This can be done by asking questions, by encouraging the receiver to express his reaction, by subsequent review of performance. In short, ensure that every important communication has a feedback to that complete understanding and appropriate action result. Be a Good Listener Often, when we start talking we cease to listen, and more seriously we are all guilty at times, of inattentiveness when others are attempting to communicate with us. Listening is one of the most vital, most neglected skills in communication. It demands that we concentrate not on the explicit meaning another person is expressing, but on its implicit meanings, spoken words, and underscores that may be far more significant. By being a good listener, the messages ensure a close-loop in the communication process. FIVE LEVELS OF COMMUNICATION The five levels of communication are listed down the centre of a diagram of a valley. This is a valley of closeness, intimacy, security and trust. The left side of the valley is where a young man and a young woman start in a friendship. They feel uncomfortable talking to each other because they don’t know each other and are not sure of the strength of the relationship. As they get to know each other better they grow in confidence and open up more and more in their communication. As they enter courtship and marriage the level of trust and the desire to understand each other can develop into most intimate, honest and rewarding level of communication possible between two individuals. A couple with a healthy marriage will easily move through all five levels of communication as appropriate for the situation. At times very little talking will be necessary since they have learned to understand each other so well. At other times their talking and listening will explore the depths of feelings and emotions, hopes and failures of both the husband and the wife. Misunderstandings and conflict will enter a marriage relationship and if they are not resolved, hurt, anger and mistrust can cause the partners to begin to close up and withdraw from each other. If the problems are not dealt with resolved the couple will stop communicating at the deepest levels. They may eventually reach the place where attempts at real communication have become so painful, so frustrating or so ineffective that they stop trying. Once again the two are at level one, talking very little. This time it is not because they are uncomfortable due to unfamiliarity but because of so many unsuccessful attempts to talk and be listened to. They have stopped caring about trying to communicate. Even couples with healthy marriages don’t share at level five all the time. In fact this would not be healthy since level five communications is very intense, emotionally demanding communication. A good balance of all five levels is healthy communication. Level 1: Talking very little For the young man and young woman who have just met this is the way a relationship starts. At times the healthy married couple may also talk very little. Just being together they communicate through body language and not a lot needs to be said. The quiet times a couple spends together can provide a healthy balance to good talking at other times. However, for the couple under the stress of unresolved conflict talking very little is a sign of a dangerous breakdown in communication. Level 2: Talking about facts and others In a growing relationship this level provides fuel for talking without involving a lot of risk of being hurt or misunderstood. This can be a step toward greater trust and confidence in a relationship. Talking about others need not to be gossip but rather be a part of learning more about each other’s world. Level 3: Talking about ideas and opinions Talking about ideas and opinions involves risk because the individual is sharing things that he or she considers important and has invested thought and effort in developing. Having ideas and opinions accepted builds a person’s sense of worth, strengthens trust and deepen intimacy. Having ideas and opinions treated as unimportant or rejected without being considered causes pain and undermines self-esteem and trust. Repeated rejection of ideas and opinions by one’s partner will usually cause the person to stop sharing at this level. Anger and frustration may be expressed or kept in the heart. Level 4: Talking about feelings and emotions Talking about feelings and emotions grows out of a relationship of trust. Now the heart, not just the head, is talking. A sensitive, thoughtful response will deepen trust and intimacy and strengthen the relationship. A careless or critical response will hurt deeply and may cause the one hurt to feel unloved and not understood. In order not to be hurt further he or she will likely stop sharing at this level and retreat to a safer level. Level 5: Talking about hopes and failures This is the deepest and most personal level of communication and one that God intends every married couple to enjoy. This is part of the “naked and unashamed” relationship described in Genesis 2:5. This level of communication will only thrive where complete trust and confidence have been nurtured and tested in the relationship. Here the husband and wife expose the needs of their hearts and share their dreams. Level five communications requires skilful listening with a sincere desire to understand the other person’s heart. As the relationship grows and trust increases the depth of communication should also increase. THE IMPORTANCE OF EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION IN MARRIAGE The need to ensure effective communication in a marriage is inevitable considering the issues discussed in the preceding chapters. In a home where there is effective communication, rancor, deceit, suspicion, insincerity and unfaithfulness will not exist or at worst be at its lowest ebb. Conflict is not uncommon to all human organizations. Effective communication will help a great deal in conflict management and resolution in marriage. Genuine love, understanding and mutual respect for one another are the bedrocks of effective communication in a marriage. It is essentials for spouses to work at ensuring effective communication in their marriage for the following reasons: Rearing or training of the children Peace of mind, emotional stability and long life. Old age period. Societal peace. For the sake of evangelism. Rearing or Training of the Children: Marriage creates the best environment for raising children. The home environment within which a child grows determines what a child becomes at adulthood. An atmosphere laden with love, understanding and mutual respect for one another would help to breed children that are emotionally stable, friendly and warm. Marriage was instituted so that it could provide a platform for raising Godly offspring. This was clearly established in the scripture thus: Children of today are leaders of tomorrow. There is no alternative to providing a conducive atmosphere at home for the sake of the children’s future. Studies have shown the majority of school drop-outs, armed robbers, touts and deviants in the society are products of broken homes. Also cases abound that after the death of the parents, the children (because they have not been well brought up) drew battle lines, killed and destroyed each other because of inheritance. In most cases such landed properties being struggled for could end up not being inhabited after they (they children) must have killed each other one after the other. The property in question could attract litigations in the court of law and eventually none of them benefiting from it. In the light of this, parent should make every necessary sacrifice for the future of their children by staying together to avoid communication breakdown. Peace of Mind, Emotional Stability and Long Life: Peace of mind cannot be valued in terms of money. In marriage, the amount of peace experienced is determined by a lot of factors; but principal among them is the resolution or commitment of the spouses to give peace a chance and make the relationship work. Lack of peace in a marriage could easily lead to a lot of emotional and health problems. Some of these are: high blood pressure, hypertension and in extreme cases stroke and untimely death. Spouses should be mindful of the fact that if peace eludes their home, it could have serious consequences on them. Generally speaking, life is very short and one should strive to enjoy it to the fullest. Lack of peace in a marriage cuts short the bliss and pleasures of the home. For peace to reign in a marriage, spouses should realize that the institution of marriage is a permanent one. That no man is allowed to separate spouses joined together by God according to that scripture confirms the permanence of the institution. Unless spouses realize this and consciously work at staying together, effective communication cannot be accomplished. Old Age Period: It is in the absolute interest of spouses to maintain effective communication and understanding at all times. When the spouses are still young, they are agile, they can jump from one end to the other, and they can associate and interact with people freely and actively. As they grow older, all these will not be possible again. A school of though opined that spouses need each other more at old age than when they were young. This is premised on the fact that after the children had matured and got married, they will leave the parents to establish their own homes. Sequel to this, their visit to the parents will just be occasional. This fact coupled with some other factors could make the old age period lonely and boring. At this period, spouses need each other greatly; especially for companionship. Spouses should envision their old age and cultivate the habit of give and take when they are still young so as to enjoy their future. The fact that the idea of carrying the aged to the Old People’s Home is unAfrican corroborates this viewpoint. Therefore, the need for special mutual care by spouses at old age is enough reason to prevent communication breakdown in marriage right through their youthful years. Societal Peace The totality or aggregate of families in a community forms the society. Hence whatever happens in any family is bound to have a direct impact on the society. As a result of communication breakdown between spouses, separation or divorce could result. The offspring form such homes could grow to be deviants in the society. Being products of broken homes deprived them of experiencing love and as such cannot show same. They can hardly do well in school, and so are likely to drop out. Children with little or no parental care and control are likely to join bad gangs such as thieves, dupes, assassins, political thugs, cheats, rapists and prostitutes. These people sure have bad influence on the society. Projecting the cycle further, since parents are role models to their children; these social misfits are likely to raise their own kind. In facts, such children would be more dreadful To a very large extent, this is one of the causes of insecurity of lives and properties. To live long and enjoy one’s old age, spouses should raise children that will be useful to themselves and contribute meaningful to the growth of the nation and societal peace. There is no alternative to having a good home where love is shared. This can only be achieved when effective communication is maintained in a marriage. CAUSES OF COMMUNICATION BREAKDOWN IN MARRIAGE One reason why communication breakdown is common in marriages is its nature. It does not happen in a day. It is a process that takes days, months or even years to develop. It happens gradually in such a way that most couples are not aware of its presence in their relationships. They will be drifting apart gradually until they find it difficult to communicate effectively. They are no more reaching each other or sharing their minds. Below are some common causes of communication breakdown in marriage: 1. Divergent background of spouse It is important to know and accept the individual of one’s partner. Inability to do this may lead to communication breakdown. The concept of individual difference must ne put into consideration. Each partner was born and raised by different parents under different environment. There is need to understand the background of your spouse. This will help a lot in communication. Failure to do this leads to communication breakdown. 2. Differences in education Every couple needs to know the difference in the area of education. Education of spouse helps to shape his thinking, behaviour and general exposure in life. For instance, a graduate husband is more exposed in life than illiterate wife vice-versa. It takes time to re- orientate themselves and adjust. If such a woman or man as the case may be is not willing to cooperate with the partner, this may lead to breakdown in communication which will have adverse effect on their marriage. 3. Lack of skill on the part of communication partners. This is a common feature in marital communication especially when dealing with sensitive issues. While explanation is still going on, the other draws his/her conclusion half way through. This can be very irritating, frustrating and annoying. The act of listening while others are speaking is absent in so many homes today. This barbaric act has caused damages to homes and many promising marriages 4. Differences in language skills The intelligent and practiced ways of sending and receiving messages are absent here. The language used cannot be understood. No clear pronunciation, no suitable vocabulary, lack of fluency and expressive delivery of the message. A partner who could not develop good language skills either to move up to the level at which his/her spouse will understand or comes down to his/her level is not communication. This is a problem that must be resolved. 5. Lack of mutual respect Husband and wife should respect one another. Where there is mutual respect, it will be easier to communicate. They should respect the opinion of others. When there is mutual respect, couples are able to ignore gossips from friends and neighbours. Communication breaks down when there is quarrelling, lambasting, subjugating and abusing on the part of either partner. 6. Gate keeping This is another source of barrier in communication. This occurs when either of the spouses occupies a position that gives him access to all information needed to move the family forward. And in the process of vetting, he impounds, suppresses information to which he is hostile to. This leads to problem with his spouse (wife or husband). 7. Difference in intelligent level It is a natural phenomenon that human beings to aspire high actually higher. Men are generally more aggressive than women when it comes to ambition and exploring new grounds. If care is not taking. The intelligence level between the couple be so wide that both find it difficult to relate easily. This affects their effectiveness in communication because they would not have much in common and secondary because their reasoning faculties have developed along different lines. In situation whereby they are not together intelligently, then crisis has set in and instability is inevitable. 8. Inability to forgive Marital crisis is very complex and at times, it is almost impossible to trace the root. The root cause a times is that the couples are not willing to forgive each other. For instance, wife who has been beaten several times by the husband. She too has gone all over town destroying her husband’s character. As a result they have deep- seated hatred for each other. The only way to enjoy marital happiness is to forgive each other. 9. Rumour which creates actual and imagined events by adding to or subtracting from what actually obtains can cause problem in the family if it is not properly handled. For example, if there is a rumour in the neighborhood concerning any of the marriage partners. The gossip will either add to or subtract from in order from in order to make his information acceptable to his recipient. 10. Semantic barrier This is a barrier which results from the disparity in the level of language usage which can be source of misunderstanding in any family. 11. Inability to Listen Intensely: One of the key communication skills is ability to listen intensely. Many people lack this salient skill and so they fail to listen through during conversations. This deficiency could be largely due to impatience. Often times, such people make assumptions and jump into conclusions even before one finishes talking to them. The assumptions they make are usually based on their mindset or bias. Subsequently, they misconstrue the information so passed. Negative meanings or misconception being given in this regard usually have adverse effects on relationship, which could eventually lead to communication. 12. Bad Attitude: Bad attitudes of spouses like arrogance, disobedience, indolence and selfishness could cause communication breakdown in marriage. Just as good traits could be inherited, experience has shown that bad traits too are being passed on the offspring. Also from observation, it has been noted that female children behave most likely like their mothers; while male children behave like their fathers. Besides, parents are role models to their children. If spouses fail to work on their inherited or acquired bad traits, they could be sources of misunderstanding between the spouses. When this arises, a breakdown in communication is inevitable. 13. When Spouses are not Compatible: Basically, spouses have individual differences. Couples are said to be incompatible if they find it difficult to tolerate their differences. These differences could be in the areas of their beliefs, attitudes, interests, disposition, etc. A school of thought described a couple as two hearts breathing as one; a fusion of two individuals into one. These are two individuals that are resolved to live together or rather share the rest part of their lives together. For proper integration, the issue of compatibility comes in. the couple’s interests should be fairly similar. If not, there could be a problem in their co-habitation. Compatibility is about letting go of one’s bad behaviour and be willing to tolerate another person. The issue of agreement between the two parties is very essential. It is very difficult if not impossible to get two absolutely identical individuals. Therefore, tolerance becomes a key factor. The extent to which spouses can tolerate each other determines their compatibility level and whether the marriage will endure or not. Cases of disparity between spouses could be so pronounced that they find it difficult to cope. This arises if they perceive, analyze and react to issues in a remarkably different manner. The tendency is that one intolerable act or situation could lead to an uncomplimentary response, and in a chain of similar communication process, a breakdown results. 14. Short Courtship Period Laden with Pretences: Short courtship period could be another source of communication breakdown in a marriage; especially when it is full of pretences. Instances abound where spouses have been infatuated, and while still in their dream world, decided to get married. Although nobody can claim that he/she knows his/her spouse totally or completely; the shortness of a courtship could prevent couples from knowing each other sufficiently enough. After the nuptial has been tied, each of the spouses begins to show his or her true colours. This could lead to frictions and eventually a breakdown in communication. 15. Background of the Partners: Too much disparity in the background of the spouses could cause communication breakdown in a marriage. Psychological studies have shown that heredity and experience are the principal factors that determine the character of an individual. If either the husband or wife is a product of a broken home; he/she may not have the opportunity of experiencing love as a child. This is likely to have adverse effect on him or her when he/she grows up to become a husband or wife. Having not experienced love, he may not be able to share same. He is more likely to nag and he emotionally unstable and intolerant. 16. Barrenness Barrenness and some other problems could cause communication breakdown in a marriage. Other challenges like joblessness, sickness and changing fortune could becloud some spouses and prevent them from appreciating other blessings from God. These problems could lead to stress; they could also make the future appear uncertain. Communication pattern that could arise in this situation are: nagging, impatience and intolerance. These could lead to communication breakdown and eventual separation or divorce. 17. Loss of Confidence: Loss of confidence usually leads to suspicion in a marriage. Once the first love in a marriage disappears, suspicion takes over. In a marriage laden with suspicion, even when any of the spouses does something with good intentions; the tendency is for the partner to misconstrue it. An atmosphere of loss of confidence does not give room for couples to plan their future and those of their children together. Cooperation between spouses will vanish. The wife would prefer to spend her income as she likes; giving preference only to satisfying her own interest. For instance, she would not want to join resources with the husband to build a house or embark on a meaningful investment. 18. Unfair Assumptions: Communication breakdown could also result in a situation where one of the parties involved in communication assumes that the other person should talk or behaves differently; he takes offence and reacts provocatively. Possibly angered by this, an equally offensive response is likely to be offered. Resultantly, a breakdown in communication ensues. 19. Ego Problem: Communication can break down when one of the people relating together in communication has ego problem. This is a situation where an individual thinks too highly of himself. This type of attitude takes its source from pride. But usually signal destruction. He hardly considers the feelings and opinions of others. He believes he is always right and that no one can fault his stand on issues. His driving force is ‘self’ and he usually dominates discussions; even if his view are challenged by a more superior argument. He is usually obstinate because of his self pride, and instead of accepting his mistakes, he gets irritated. When this happens. He either withdraws and desists from talking to the person or talks to him arrogantly with the intention of injuring his feelings. Thus, a breakdown in communication results. 20. Negative Influence of a Third Party: People that are fond of discussing their spouses with a third part stand the risk of being negatively influenced. This could be most disastrous if the advice given by such friends is false and misleading. Out of envy and a deliberate intention to create problem for another family; some fellows could give ill-conceived advice. A scenario was narrated of a woman who collects a certain amount of money from her husband for upkeep. Due to steady rise in prices, she shared her ordeal with a friend of hers. The friend incidentally collects only half of what her embittered friend collect for upkeep in a month; out of jealousy pointedly affirmed that she could never take such meager amount from any man. This prompted the woman that was in a dilemma to pick quarrel with her husband. Cases like this do occur and if care is not taken, it could lead to communication breakdown between spouses. CONSEQUENCES OF COMMUNICATION BREAKDOWN IN MARRIAGE Communication breakdown is an ill-wind that blows anyone no good. It can lead to bad tendencies like malice, anger, impatience, unforgiveness, selfishness, hatred and a host of others. These vices are capable of driving one to an inglorious end; spouses could separate or be divorced. Communication breakdown can lead to loss of love. When this arises, some of the following can happen: being unkind to one another, showing no care and affection, not being ready to make sacrifice for one another, or serve each other and deliberately hurting each other. Other are: impatience, rudeness, jealousy, selfishness and boastfulness. Cases abound where spouses never had any verbal exchange for months; despite their living under the same roof. They would so much avoid each other that they would not make the mistake of staying close to each other. If they must interact, it would only be through information scribbled on pieces of paper and placed at conspicuous places for the partner to see. Succinctly put, communication breakdown can lead to: Loss of love Loss of trust Development of bad habits and unwholesome tendencies. Making wrong assumptions, leading to negative and unfriendly actions. Insincerity in handling money and other resources. Sexual denial Isolation and emotional wreckage. Loss of Love: When love is lacking in a family, there cannot be happiness; and without this, there cannot be a cordial atmosphere to bring up the children in the way of God. When communication breaks down between spouses, the first thing to disappear is love. This ultimately can give room for unnecessary arguments, misunderstanding, self righteousness and quarrels. Loss of love is likely to bring out the selfish tendencies in spouses. For instance, the husband thinks first of himself; whatever happens to the wife and the children is less importance. He can begin to find ‘happiness’ in wine and other women. The wife on her part can also care less about the husband. She denies him food, affection and sex. The wife in retaliation may seek companionship in other men or morally bankrupt and wayward female friends. This development can lead to ineptitude on the part of the spouses in caring for the children. Where there is love, spouses will be slow to anger and forgiveness of sin becomes easy. Spouses should emulate God in this regard and strive at all cost to maintain the bound of love in their marriage. Loss of Trust: Loss of trust can either be a cause or consequence of communication breakdown. Trust is the backbone of any relationship; especially in a marriage. Once the initial trust between spouses goes, relationship will be hampered and things can hardly be the same again. This can give to suspicious, nagging and impatience. Trust and faithfulness go hand in hand. Loss of trust precipitates doubts regarding the sincerity of one’s partner. Every move by either of the spouses can be misconstrued. Negative meanings and interpretations are usually attached to sincere actions and opinions. Bad Habits and Unwholesome Tendencies: Communication breakdown in marriage usually widens the gap between spouses. In an attempt to retaliate the loss of love and affection, spouses take to bad habits like drunkenness, night crawling and sexual promiscuity. Also, bad tendencies like malice, impatience and unforgiveness are cultivated. All these injurious lifestyles are taken to in order to derive pleasure that was denied at home. Making Wrong Assumptions: Lack of or communication breakdown breeds wrong assumptions which usually lead to negative and unfriendly actions. A case was relayed of a situation where a lady (University undergraduate) had come to see her sister during a semester break. Instead of going straight to the house, she chose to go to her brother in-law’s office. She had the intension of going home with him after the day’s work. On their way back home, they had a stop over at a colleague’s house. The man dashed in for a brief assignment leaving the sister-in-law in the car. On her way back home, the wife sighted the husband’s car and perceived the figure of a lady in it. Without taking pains to see who the lady was, she smashed the windscreen of her husband’s car on the assumption that the lady was the husband’s girlfriend. By the time the lady in the car alighted, and she turned out to be her own sister; the wife regretted her action. Her anguish was too late because it announced to crying over split milk. Losses of this nature are inevitable when wrong assumptions are made during communication. With patience, humility and understanding, disasters like the one experienced in the case above could be prevented. Stress, Unhealthy Living and Untimely Death: Communication breakdown in marriage could lead to stress, unhealthy living and in extreme cases, untimely death. Ill-feelings and hatred usually result from communication breakdown. Disgust becomes rife between the spouses such that they could not share their feelings and problems. Thinking over issues together and encouraging one another becomes impossible. The situation is capable of leading to hypertension, stroke and eventually untimely death. Insincerity in Handling Money and other Resources: For a marriage to succeed, spouses must be passionate committed to it. One cannot shy away from the fact that separation and divorce is on the increase these days. A lot of conflicts and disagreements can arise from communication breakdown in marriage; but prominent among them related to money and sex. The issue may not necessarily be about keeping or not keeping a common purse. The snag is the element of unfaithfulness and selfishness that spouses to demonstrate in handling money and financial issues. The antidote to this is openness and transparency. In this regard, either of the spouses will not be able to assume wrongly about the financial status or level of one another. Managing the financial resources in a marriage requires understanding and flexibility. Where spouses fail to do this, the gap between spouses is likely to widen further. Sexual Denial: Similarity, a lot of sex induced conflicts do occur in a marriage as a result of communication breakdown. Usually, sex related rancours arise from denial. Sexual compatibility of the spouses is essential. This could be brought about by understanding and willingness to concede for one another. Where the sex life of spouses is not properly managed, the friction deepens and the marriage disintegrates further. Sex is supposed to be enjoyed by couples. So they need to offer themselves to one another willingly and unconditionally. Spouses should also live above sex associated taboos and discuss sex related problems with an open mind and the commitment to find a mutually acceptable solution. In all situations, spouses should show sufficient understanding and encourage each other to ensure marital harmony. The issue of promiscuity has ruined a lot of homes. Promiscuity is an act of sexual immorality; spouses should therefore avoid it so as to prevent unpleasant consequences. Isolation and Emotional Wreckage: Communication breakdown between spouses could lead to isolation when partners go their separate ways. The bond of love is broken and there is no more companionship. Depending on the nature of the individuals concerned, it could lead to a total emotion wreckage, sickness and irreparable loss when such a situation ended in suicide. FACTORS THAT FOSTER EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION Improving communication in marriage is not an easy task (Omojola, 1996). It requires not only determination and hardwork, but also giving attention to what can be regarded as little things. Giving attention to them and working on them can make a great difference in your marital relationship. The following will help a lot: 1. Possessing communication skills and attitudes: Every married couple must possess communication skills and attitudes. The skills involve intelligent way of sending and receiving messages talking and writing, listening and reading. This involves an understanding of how the process works and sensitivity to variable factors as well as mastery of techniques. Attitudes on the other hand is a necessary tool in improve communication in marriage relationship. A person with a negative attitude towards the person with whom he/she is communicating will create barriers to understanding, whether he is sending or receiving. As a sender, he may use the wrong tone, and some other negative languages. As a receiver, he may choose to disbelieve or ignore a message because of its source, or he may read into straight forward message negative attitudes similar to his own, taking offence where none was intended. A marriage partner should be kind, calm, sincere and gently. It affords the opportunity to give support, encouragement and make correction when needed. 2. Develop interest in things that interest your partner. Communication skill develops when people take time to talk together in the atmosphere of friendship. A couple that will enjoy good communication must of necessity increase their areas of interest. 3. Use of Non-Verbal Language: The non-verbal interactional communication ranges in scope from gesture to the use of visual to communicate. This is divided into three divisions. I. Writing – This can help a lot in expressing our minds, even between couples who live under the same roof. For example, a woman who leaves a note of her where about her husband will surely save herself the embarrassment of being bombarded with various questions on returning home. II. Symbols – The use of symbols is another good one. For instance, sending flowers to one’s wife will communicate important messages to her. The point we are making here is that some symbolic items can be given to our partners to express the state of the minds beyond what words can express. III. Body Language – A spouse can communicate by gestures, facial expression, body positive and movement. The use of eye contact is very important here. Through it, we are able to collect information from the facial expressions and body gesture of the person who is speaking or listening. The information so collected gives insight into the person’s thinking and this help to understand him better. 4. Other means of making communication effective: There are other tips that will help couples to build an effective communication system which will help in stabilizing their marriage. This is divided into two areas, and each of the partners to note them because he/she can be in any of the position. (i) As a sender. (a) As you send the message, decide carefully what sort of action or response you desire from the receiver. (b) Choose a language or combination of languages spoken or word, picture or symbol most suitable for your needs and the situation. (c) Ensure that your chosen language is fully comprehensible to the receiver’s abilities and limitations. (d) Take care that your message is not capable of being misinterpreted. Avoid vagueness, ambiguity, sarcasm, pettiness or innuendo. (e) Check that you are receiving the desire feedback, answers, clarification and indications of attitudes. (ii) As a receiver: (a) Give an in-coming message all your attention. Avoid being side- tracked or distracted. Read, look or listen positively and with concentration. (b) Check that the sender’s chosen communication medium is meeting your needs. Don’t settle for a bad line and interminable wait for a letter or insolence in a speaker. (c) Ensure that you comprehend the message fully. Take the trouble if part of message’s language is unfamiliar to check your references, word or concept. (d) Take care to interpret the message correctly. Think carefully about what its implication might be before you act upon or divulge its contents. (e) Avoid the temptation deliberately to misinterpret a message as a means of retaliating against its sender. If you are not on good terms, endeavor to thrash the matter out with good will. (f) Provide the sender with insufficient feedback so as to re-assure him that you have received the message, understood and interpreted it in the way that suits the sender. Communication is the life wire that the pillar of marriage, without which there will be constant quarrels. The importance of communication cannot be over emphasized; it is the determining factor in achieving marital stability. (g) Love one Another: The type of love required of spouses is an agape love. An unconditional kind of love; one that sees the imperfection of the other but loves all the same. According to Mike Babatunde (2007), Agape love sees the defects but loves all the same, and looks for ways to help the loved one to overcome the defects. Sometimes, it corrects by way of observation and not accusation. Love in the family should be sacrificial. Deep love does not lie in verbal profession alone. Much as it is in order for spouses to talk love, the demonstration of love by being selfless is very essential in marriage. Lending credence to this, Nancy Reagan said “Love means giving one’s self to another person fully, not just physically.” When two people really love each other, this helps them to stay alive and grow. One must really be loved to grow. (h) Show Appreciation Generously: Appreciation rekindles love. It is a demonstration of care and affection. It makes the heart cheerful while ingratitude dampens the spirit. A cheerful heart is like elixir longevity of life. Appreciation motivates and encourages. It propels one for improved performance and enhanced cordial relationship, Appreciation could be shown through words of mouth, facial expression or gifts. It is now expensive the gift is, but the appropriateness of it and the spirit behind it. (i) Forgive one Another: It is very common to hear people say “to err is human, to forgive is divine”. Forgiveness is inevitable in any marriage that will endure. No wonder, William A. ward opined that “Friendship flourishes at the fountain of forgiveness”. It is impossible for couples not to offend other. Therefore, anytime we feel aggrieved; let us find it in our heart to forgive. The reality of sharing this planet with others is that people will hurt you. Sometimes, it is intentional, other times they have no idea they upset you, far less broken your heart. Does that mean you should go around pretending nothing is wrong? No, the first step is to confront your feelings. This may not be easy, but when you do it, something unexpected will happen. Your heart will soften and you will start seeing them through God’s eye instead of your raw emotions. If someone hurts you, especially your spouse, first try to figure out whether that hurt was intentional or not. This is because not every hurt is an attack. Learn to Apologize to the Aggrieved Party: Marriage is supposed to give and take. Spouse should learn to concede to one another. It is pride and arrogance that would make one feel too to say “sorry”, even when it is obvious that one has wronged another person. The phrase “I am sorry” is simple, precise and short. It has the potency to heal wounds and could serve as a soothing balm to a heart that is hurt. But unfortunately, if it is not offered as the appropriate time; one’s silence can cause untold damage to a relationship. Pray Together: Prayer is communication between God and man. Prayer is the key with which one can unlock the treasures of heaven. A family that fails to pray together can hardly stay together. This is because by praying together, spouses would be in one mind. Prayer enhances oneness of spirit and purpose. By praying, apart from worshipping God, one is making his supplication known to God. Prayer also provides the platform through which one can ask, seek and knock the door of blessings from God. There are a thousand and one things that a family would like to ask from God. Some of these are victory, favour and blessings to mention a few. It is only through prayer that all these can be achieved. Besides, agreement in prayer is very vital. Be Industrious: Indolence is a recipe for poverty. Spouses should not be lazy, because laziness makes one poor. In marriage, economic consideration is very important. Both husband and wife should be able to contribute meaningfully towards the up – keep on the family. Be selfless: Selfish and self-centered attitudes must be avoided in marriage if success is desired. In marriage, the attitude of ‘mine’ must be done away with. Spouses should perceive their belongings as ‘ours’. Individuals should think of the partner first before him/her. Only genuine love and mutual respect for one another can make selfishness possible. Maintain Decorum in Communication: Couples should avoid the use of foul language while interacting with each other. Harsh words usually lead to anger, while a soft answer turn away wrath; so spouses should endeavor to do away with harsh words. This is because a soft answer turns away wrath, but harsh word stirs up anger. Spouses should not act foolishly by giving full vent to their anger. Spouses should take a cue from Adeniji (2008) guideline for maintaining good inter-personal relations among people. Spouses should make: The least important word: “I” The one most important word: “We” The two most important words: “Thank you” The three most important words: “If you please”. The four most important words: “What is your opinion” The five most important words: “You did a good job” The six most important words: “I admit I made a mistake” These guidelines are a form of elixir for effective communications in marriage. Be Proud of one Another: There is need for spouses to be proud of each other, identify with each other and always love to be in each other’s company. This attitude helps to strengthen love and affection between couples. Appearing in the same attire for instance depicts (to a large extent), closeness and it strengthens companionship. It also shows unity and oneness. Cordiality is improved and friction is reduced. Couples should also be proud of the family’s achievements by celebrating special days like birthdays and wedding anniversary. Be Humble and Submissive to one Another: Humility is very important in marriage. Without humility on the part of both husband and wife, marital harmony will elude them. Wisdom comes with humility, but pride leads to disgrace. In a similar vein, spouses should have the fear of God so as to have wisdom and also be humble so as to be honoured. Have Mutual Respect for Each Other’s Views and Avoid Unnecessary Argument: Respect begets respect. There is need for reciprocity in respecting each other’s views. Gone were the days that women were regarded as chattels. These days, they not only contribute economically to the up-keep of the family, they are capable of offering suggestions that are reasonable. Mutual respect for each other’s view could enhance better understanding and love. The danger inherent in not respecting each other’s views lies in the fact that rebellious response could emanate from the spouse whose views are not respected. This could lead to a chain of reaction culminating in communication breakdown. Partners should desist from believing that his/her opinion is always right. Even after an issue has been resolved amicably, spouses should avoid the use of phrases like ‘didn’t I tell you?’, ‘I knew it would be like that’ or ‘you know I am always right’. Offer yourselves to one Another willingly and unconditionally: Romance in marriage is not canal or unspiritual; it strengthen cordiality and closeness. Hugging, pecking and kissing are good ways of expressing love and affection. Romance between spouses helps to remove tension and makes an atmosphere of love and understanding to prevail. Complain of tiredness by either spouse be handled with mutual understanding; for instance, a woman who has gone to work since morning; who comes back home late in the evening to prepare food, take care of the children and attend to other house chores; is likely to be tired. She needs to be encouraged, motivated and put in the mood of love making when there is need for it. Children are precious gifts from God and should not constitute hindrance to a fulfilled sex life in a marriage. When children are born into a family, they share the woman’s love and time with the husband. However, this should not be an excuse to neglect the husband and be insensitive to his sexual demands. The management of the sexual life of a couple could make or mar their marriage. Sex should not be used to punish each other or as conditions should also not be given before offering each other for love making. Sex is supposed to be shared and enjoyed mutually. Denial should not be used as an excuse for extra marital affair. Spouses should dialogue and resolve sex related misunderstandings amicably. When sexual pleasure and satisfaction are derived in a marriage, it helps to solve a lot of other problems that are not even related to romance. Take Time to Study and Understand Each Other: Couples should take time to study and understand each other. Every individual is unique; he/she has his/her own peculiarities. Spouses are essentially different; they can only influence each other to a reasonable extent. There are traits that cannot be changed which one must understand and be prepared to live with. This calls for understand and to be prepared to live with. This calls for understanding and adjustment on the part of the partners. Conscious study of each other should start from courtship because partners who are strangers to each other during courtship will end up being enemies in marriage. Spouses should look out for what each person likes or dislikes. If such things cannot be influenced positively with words, actions or prayer; for the sake of peace, the partner should understand and be prepared to tolerate and live with it. There is no perfect individual. Spouses should therefore bear with one another, realizing that no matter how perfect one thinks he is, one partner is also tolerating certain bad habits of one. When spouses bear with one another, frictions and incidences of communication breakdown will be reduced. Be Simple and Precise in Communication: Spouses should avoid ambiguity and contradictions in communication. No room should be given for doubt or suspicion because this could easily cause communication breakdown in marriage. Simple and precise language is recommended, especially if the partner comes from a different culture or background. Ambiguity usually defeats the purpose of communication and is capable of giving dual meaning or a total misconception of the message. Be Clean, Neat and Presentable: Spouses should be mindful of how they dress. They are enjoined to be clean, neat and presentable without necessarily being canal or worldly. It is not unspiritual to wear neat and well tailored dresses. The way one dressed determines how he will be addressed and also depicts his address. For instance, lady who dresses like a prostitute has already indicated how she wants to be addressed; and also that her address is a brothel. Also, a man who dresses like an Area Boy has also given a clue as to how he should be addressed; and that his address is no other than the streets or the motor parks. Moderate, neat and decent dressing gives positive self-concept and confidence to an individual. Spouses should avoid attitudes and statements like ‘who has time for all that?’, ‘who is looking at me?’ or ‘who cares?’ Likewise, there is need for environmental neatness. This promotes love and healthy living. Dirty habits of either of the spouses are capable of creating friction that could easily lead to communication breakdown. Be Honest, Pure and Holy: Dishonesty can cause loss of trust and affection between spouses. Purity of heart is also essential in marital relationship. Create quality Time for Your Home: Spouses should create time for their home. Not creating time for one’s home could make one become a stranger in his/her own home. The home must be accorded the attention it deserves. Even animals cherish their homes in caves and holes. Likewise, birds sing praises of their homes. Ideally, there should be no place like home, but the truth is, it is only a home where there is love that members will long for. For marital harmony to be achieved in a home, no effort should be spared by the parties concerned. The home will be what the spouses want it to be, so there is need to passionately work at it. This is not about just sitting at home alone; the family should create time for recreation (like going for picnic) and vacation. RULES FOR EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION IN MARRIAGE No matter what problems couples encounter, effective communication will be necessary to successful deal with them. Couples release the importance of communication; it is amazing at how many couples don’t practice good communication skills. Couples fail at effective communication. Two systems for effective communication – Here are 2 systems that you can use for enhancing your communication as a couple in a way that will improve your relationship. These have to be studied, adopted and used in everyday conversations if conflicts have to be resolved. Effective communication is a key to happiness. It is one of the most powerful ways we bond with another human being. But when communication skills are lacking, we simply don’t feel connected with others. What are the rules for effective communication in marriage? 1. Eliminate the use of the words never and always. This rule is designed to minimize defensive reactions in your communication. When anyone hears that “they never” or “they always” they tend to get defensive. When they get defensive, they no longer are able to listen in an effective manner or responds with thoughts or feelings. It is better to use the words “often” instead of “always”, and “seldom” instead of never. The latter will reduce the probability of a defensive reaction from your partner. 2. Try not to blame or shame- We set up our partner for a defensive reaction when we communicate in ways that indicate blame or shame to our partner. When a defensive reaction occurs, we don’t feel as if we have been understood. In addition to not feeling heard, we usually enter into an argument or a verbal attack. We are no longer able to discuss our hurt or frustration. We are seldom able to move into conflict resolution process that gives us a win-win outcome. Most couples end up arguing about some letter issues leaving the main issue untouched. 3. Don’t name call, label or belittle – Couples usually digress to the use of demeaning words once they have become frustrated, hurt or angry. Belittling and labeling words such as stupid, moron, idiot, lazy, hard-headed and stubborn are usually said to get back at our partner for hurting us. These words will cause the relationship to descend to a lower level and will seldom lead to getting back on track with the original problem. All these hinder our progress of helping us communicate more effectively (Stoop and Stoop, 2002). 4. Don’t withdraw, isolate or avoid – When we withdraw or avoid our partner, we create an even greater problem by causing our partner to feel ignored, cut off, or abandoned. Our partner will feel as if we are trying to punish them. This often escalates and the relationship is at greater risk. It is true that a cooling off period can help us again perspective and help us get our emotions back under control, but needs to be done in a way that the other person doesn’t feel as if it is withdrawal or avoidance. 5. Listen completely and take painstaking steps to hear everything – The key to successful communication is the ability to listen. Listening is so much more than hearing. It is becoming aware of the content and feelings the other is experiencing. It is best to repeat back to the person that he or she shared being sure that one hears correctly. The efforts put in listening will be highly rewarded. This will help to control our emotions, it is always better especially when one’s emotion is heightened to a point of physical or verbal abuse. This is a pattern in your relationship. 6. Don’t demand, rather ask – Demands usually create defensive reactions in anyone. During the early days of courtship, we are usually very courteous and kind. After the honeymoon, things can change quickly, instead of asking, we demand. 7. Don’t use threats – when we are intensely frustrated, we resort to using phrases such as “if you don’t stop that, I…” Threats cause our partner to become not only defensive but even aggressive. Try very hard not to use threats. Take a time-out; bite your tongue, bur stay away from using them. 8. Don’t interrupt – Many couples have problems in observing this rule. We seldom think to repeat what the person said before we share our thoughts and feelings. When we interrupt someone, it causes him or her to feel as if we don’t care, aren’t listening or we only want to speak our mind (Tirabassi, 2001). If we are prone to interrupting, we need to work very diligently always to repeat what our partner said before we share. We must know that we will get a chance but must wait until the other person has finished sharing his or her thought and feelings. 9. Stay affirming – It is always best to begin a conversation by sharing some form of positive affirmation with your partner. If we affirm our partner, we help prepare them to bear our hurts. We must even affirm our partner for being willing to take about our conflicts. E.g. “Thank you so much for being willing to share your feelings with me.