Marriage: You may know how to talk but do you know how to communicate?

Posted: October 25, 2013 in Uncategorized

“O you who have attained to faith! Remain conscious of Allah, and always speak with a will to bring out [only] what is just and true. He will cause your deeds to be virtuous, and will forgive you your sins. And [know that] whoever pays heed unto Allah and His Apostle (صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم) has already attained to a mighty triumph.” (Qur’an 33:70-71)
There is a famous saying that you have two ears and one mouth, use them in that proportion. Some people love the sound of their own voice. The art of good communication is to say what you mean and be heard in the way you want to be heard. The blessed Prophet (صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم) reminds us that “Even a pleasant word is charity”.
Good communication is not:
  • When you shout the loudest
  • When you argue the most
  • When you ignore the opinion of others
  • When you always get your way
There are five principles that govern good communication:
i) Listen carefully: When someone is talking to you, it is important that your body language demonstrates you are actually listening. You should pay attention to what is being said and show empathy.
ii) Say what you mean and mean what you say: If you do not mean it, do not say it, would be the best advice. Words make and break relationships, so say things that will bring the best out of your spouse. Some go too far, using words intended to hurt and cause maximum damage. This is not the best way to communicate, especially not with the person you love!
iii) Do not judge another’s intention: You cannot read minds, therefore do not interpret what is being said using you own biased thoughts. Ask your spouse what the intention was behind what was said. It is reported that the blessed Prophet (صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم) reminds us that we should give the benefit of the doubt even seventy times.
iv) Give feedback: Clarify if you feel you have been misunderstood or not heard right, or if you have not heard something correctly. One way to ensure this happens effectively is to simply say, “Did I hear you right, did you say…” or “Did you mean” or “Let me clarify” or “I may have said it wrong, let me say that again”. These small phrases avoid huge upheavals and hurt feelings. Express how you feel honestly and respectfully. If your spouse does not know how you feel, how will they address the issue?
v) Agree on a resolution: At the end of any conversation, especially a continuous one, do not leave it hanging. Agree on a step forward. It could be as simple as saying “Let’s carry on with this conversation later” or “The way forward on the issue we have discussed is….” Take responsibility, agree on who is going to do what. A conversation that does not end with an agreed resolution usually festers and later turns into a row.
Islam places further emphasis on one or more principle:
vi) Practice what you preach: “O YOU who have attained to faith! Why do you say one thing and do another? Most loathsome is it in the sight of Allah that you say what you do not do!” (Qur’an 61:2-3)
People who preach what they do not practice lose respect and credibility. Our loved ones pick up on these obvious contradictions and may harbour negative or ill feelings towards us. This is not the best way to develop respect and get closer to your spouse.
We should not communicate with malice in our heart. We should not harbour suspicions and doubts about our spouse. We should think well of others and speak politely or stay quiet, advised the blessed Prophet (صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم).
A saying of the blessed Prophet (صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم) highlights the importance of meaningful communication:
“I guarantee a house in the surroundings [outskirts] of Paradise for a person who avoids quarreling even if s/he were in the right; a house in the middle of Paradise for a person who avoids lying even if s/he were joking; and a house in the upper part of Paradise for a person who made her/his character good.”
[Hadith Abu Dawud]
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