The Sweet Christian Bride

The Art of Conversing

by admin on August 19, 2011 in Relationship with No Comments

I remember a point in my engagement when I could think of no new question for Chris.  I knew everything about him.  Having totally opposite interests and knowing everything about each other, we didn’t have much to talk about except for wedding planning.   As verbal people, I found that odd.  

When we were dating, we had so much to get to know about each other, so our conversations were steady and exciting.  Wedding planning captivated our focus, so we constantly dreamed and strategized together to make that day perfect.  On our honeymoon, however, it was just him and me laying beside each other on the beach with no agenda.  We didn’t have much to say, which was new and slightly uncomfortable.

I noticed that same strange disconnect when we would go on dates after we were married.  Everyone else around us would be chatting up a storm such that you could actually discern the dynamic of those relationships based on their body language.  But Chris and I would just eat quietly.  I wanted to put a sign up that said, “I promise we are in love,” just in case someone thought we were indifferent to each other.  But then we would get in the car and have a great conversation.  I didn’t get why we had such difficult talking to each other in normal conversational situations when we were madly in love with each other.

I finally asked Chris for assurance on the matter.  That was when I learned about the ping-pong table.  As a child, he had a ping-pong table in his room.  If something needed to be talked about, his dad would go upstairs and play ping-pong with him.  Over the game, conversation would freely flow whereas over the dinner table it wouldn’t.

The way that Chris dialogued best was over a shared activity, but I had never known that.  Waiting for food at a restaurant or sitting next to each other on the couch was a sure bet for silence, but going on walks together, driving somewhere together, or playing cards with each other opened the door for meaningful, varied, lengthy conversations.  This is where the heart of our conversations happens, but it took my learning what was normal for him to understand what our conversational style meant for us.

Sometimes I look at older couples and I marvel at how comfortable they have become just being together.  No conversation needed, just presence.  It’s beautiful and is something I hope to learn to do better.  Other times, I look at older couples, and I can see they need a distraction just to be together.  One is watching the TV while the other is cooking.  After they eat together, they separate and do their own things until they can sleep together in order to get ready for the following day of distractions.  Conversation seems to be minimal, trivial, or logistical.  They seem more like roommates than spouses.

I doubt that couples like this ever made a conscious decision to learn how to not talk.  I think that differences in conversational styles, in processing of ideas, in interest and priorities left them them feeling like existing near each other was easier and smoother than learning how to converse with one another.

Now is the time to start learning the art of conversation in your relationship.  Wedding planning is a great shared goal that stimulates a variety of discussions.  Pre-marital counseling is also a prime opportunity to connect on topics of the past and the future that might not otherwise come up. 

One you are married, living together will open up endless topics for discussions, so will having children and starting new jobs.  And even day-to-day topics like the news, the weather, the political climate, the media, and other current culture can spark exciting and important conversations.  My favorite impetus for conversation is the Holy Spirit and how He brings the Word alive in our lives.

Any topic can be a catalyst for  meaningful discussion, so try not to judge your conversational healthy by the topics you gravitate towards.  Often trivial topics are the easiest way to start a discussion about something weighty that is related.

Learning how to hear beyond the words is something that takes intentionality and humility.  If you want to love your spouse better, you will try to pick up on the body language that speaks beyond the words.  That way you can address the issue and not just the topic.  You can ask him what it means when his voice gets swallowed or when he interrupts or when he laughs at random moments.  Figuring out your conversational language together is much more effective and exciting than trying to read each other’s minds on your own.

Discovering your languages together, as opposed to analyzing text-book body language clues on your own, is what makes conversation an art and not a science.  When you can start to see why he gets defensive at a certain topic or why he needs a topic switch after a certain time frame, you can ride his language wave with him.  You can anticipate it and be sensitive to the why’s behind the how’s.  The best part is that you can fuel his heart by knowing what affirms him or inspires him.

Each stage of life is a new chapter in your married language book.  If you feel like you have to learn how to converse all over again, take heart.  You are not a failing couple, you are a growing couple. 

Go on a date night that is separate from all wedding talk.  Discover each other with questions and stories and hopes and fears.  If the conversation if stilted, that’s okay; use some conversation starters to get you talking. 

You and your fiancé get to create a language all your own as you continue to discover who you are, what your words mean, what your processing styles are, what your hearts yearn to know about, and why you converse the way you do.  It’s a beautiful art that can teach and inspire other fledgling couples who are watching your marriage language take form.

By Lindsay

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