How often do couples "tune one another out" in their conversations? Effective communication means effective listening as well as speaking. We should listen for understanding—try to understand the other person’s point of view. Try to understand the other person’s feelings and needs! Demonstrate respect by giving your full attention.
The Apostle Paul gives us a fundamental principle in communicating effectively. "But speaking the truth in love, [we] may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ" (Ephesians 4:15). Some people speak the truth in hate. But Christians who are maturing in Christ will care about how their words affect those who listen to them.
When you talk with your husband or your wife, do you demonstrate concern and care? Do you communicate respect? Certainly we need to be patient with one another. "Charity suffereth long, and is kind." (1 Corinthians 13:4, KJV) The NIV states it this way: "Love is patient, love is kind." Be conscious always to speak the truth in love!
In our fast-paced lives, husbands and wives may be going in different directions and hardly have time to speak to one another. Some studies have shown that many couples average less than 20 minutes a week in conversation! Authors Leonard and Natalie Zunin have suggested the "four-minute rule" as a way to capitalize on the brief time you may have together. They point out that the success or failure of a marriage "can depend on what happens between a husband and wife during just eight minutes of the day: four in the morning upon awakening, and four when you are reunited after the working day" (Contact: The First Four Minutes, p. 133).
The Zunins correctly point out that your language, attitude, or expression at the beginning of the day can affect your whole relationship. Learn to express a positive, loving attitude for the first four minutes you are together at the beginning of the day. If you make this effort, you can avoid an accidental argument or an unnecessary grudge that will last all day. And pay particular attention when you get together at the end of the day. Even if you are tired, a positive word of encouragement or appreciation—a hug or a kiss can make a big difference in your relationship for the whole evening.