Improve Communication in Your Marriage// Ask “What Are You Thinking?”

How to Improve Communication in Your Marriage--Love, Marybelle | ask "what are you thinking?"

Wouldn’t it be so nice if our spouses could read our minds? It would make so many aspects of marriage easier. My husband and I frequently disagree or have misunderstandings, but we have never fought. One of the ways that we’re able to achieve this is by asking the other “what are you thinking?”

We don’t say this in an exasperated, you-are-so-stupid tone, but in a sincere and honest attempt to see the situation from the other person’s perspective. When you really understand where another person is coming from it is so much easier to love them, even if you don’t agree with them. I think this story by Craig Zwick illustrates this point perfectly!

Forty-one years ago I climbed into the driver’s seat of an 18-wheel semitruck with my beautiful wife, Jan, and our infant son, Scotty. We were taking a heavy load of construction materials across several states.

As we made our descent over historic Donner Pass, a steep section of highway, the cab of the semi suddenly and unexpectedly filled with thick smoke. It was difficult to see, and we could hardly breathe.

Just as I was pulling to the side of the road, but before we had come to a full stop, my wife opened the door of the cab and jumped out with our baby in her arms. I watched helplessly as they tumbled in the dirt.

As soon as I had the semi stopped, I bolted from the smoking cab. With adrenaline pumping, I ran through the rocks and weeds and held them in my arms. Jan’s forearms and elbows were battered and bleeding, but thankfully she and our son were both breathing. I just held them close as the dust settled there on the side of the highway.

As my heartbeat normalized and I caught my breath, I blurted out, “What in the world were you thinking? Do you know how dangerous that was? You could have been killed!”

She looked back at me, with tears running down her smoke-smudged cheeks, and said something that pierced my heart and still rings in my ears: “I was just trying to save our son.”

When our truck cab filled with smoke, my wife acted in the bravest manner she could imagine to protect our son. I too acted as a protector when I questioned her choice. Shockingly, it did not matter who was more right. What mattered was listening to each other and understanding the other’s perspective.

I love what he said there: “it did not matter who was more right.” So often we are concerned with being right—with winning an argument. Can you keep a secret? This one will blow your mind: You and your spouse are on the same team! When one of you wins, you both win! My husband and I had a Sunday School teacher share with us a great tradition that we adopted very early in our marriage. This teacher said that whenever she and her husband disagreed, and they found out the correct answer, they would say, “we were right!” We. Not I, not you, but we. Putting yourself on the same team as your spouse, and trying to see the world through his or her eyes makes marriage so much more fulfilling and enjoyable!

Craig Zwick closed his remarks by saying, The willingness to see through each other’s eyes will transform “corrupt communication” into “minister[ing] grace.” I know from experience that this is true. When we look through each other’s eyes we will automatically think and speak more kindly.

I know that God loves us and that he intends for marriage to be uplifting and joyful, and above all, to help us to become more like Him. I know that as we turn to him, and to our savior, we can find the strength and courage to love our spouses, even when it is difficult.

{W. Craig Zwick shared this story at General Conference (like Christian Ted Talks) in 2014. You can read the whole talk here.}

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