Why is communication so hard?

Recently as we dropped into bed at midnight, I remembered to tell Zerrin that in the morning two pastors were coming over to the house to talk about us doing a conference with them sometime next year. Her response was: “In the morning?” and then she sighed and rolled over while we went to sleep. Early the next morning I heard my wife scurrying about in the kitchen. I got up and started some stretching when it occurred that I might ask:  “Anything I can do to help?”

Why is communication so hard

With a mixture of frustration and teasing that only my wife can pull off, she said she was fine–although gonna be later getting to school than she wanted to because she had a husband who tells her things at the last minute which meant spending an extra 20 minutes cleaning up before she left the house. My response?  Not the best…read on!

I was thinking to myself it’s no big deal! So I replied: “Honey, what do you mean? They’re guys – they are not going to care what the house looks like!”

I was feeling defensive.

Why did I say that? Why are we so prone to be defensive? I teach great stuff on communication and conflict resolving every day and yet I react in a way that is anything but loving at times.  Why?

One reason.

My heart.

The heart is deceitful.

A man in the Bible known as Jeremiah once said: “The heart is deceitful above all else and desperately wicked, who can know it?”  Jeremiah 17:9  KJV

Think about that for a bit. The Bible says your heart and mine is deceitful above all else. I can think I am a pretty good person for example, but when I see how I react at times, I realize that I am far more self-centered than I’d like to admit. Jeremiah was correct. I decieve myself into thinking I am a better person than I really am.

But it’s even worse than that. The Bible says my heart is desperately wicked!

Whew!  That is pretty strong language. My heart is desperate? For what?

Wicked? Seriously?

After years of examining my heart and being ruthlessly honest with myself, I have come to the conclusion that Jeremiah was right on that account too.

There is a desperateness inside me that drives much if not most of my behavior.

It is a desperateness to be liked by others as well as to protect myself from being hurt. Deep within my soul is an unrelenting propensity to do what is best for ME over others in life and in relationships. It is seen most operatively in the way I relate to people–even those whom I love the most–when in conflict. I react. And it is wicked. Dictionaries define that as: morally bad in principle or practice; intensely or extremely bad or unpleasant in degree or quality.  Hummm.

It was wickedness that caused me to be defensive with my wife this morning. I was morally bad – how else would I define defensiveness?  I was at the very least, unpleasant. I was protecting myself and trying to get her to see things my way so she wouldn’t be mad at me but like me. Do you see?

It was wickedness in me that also caused me later in the day to feel indignant when I felt treated unfairly by a person I was doing business with. I sent a quick short email to him to show him where he was wrong! Oh, I could argue to myself that I was just being responsible with my business (and decieve myself!), but in reality, I was reacting again…being defensive towards someone I felt was wronging me.

Where is love at times like these?

It is so easily forgotten!

This is one of the biggest reasons I have come to believe there is a God and I need Him desperately! I need God to show me my heart when it is out of line with love. I need him to change my heart and cause me to come back to love again!

Almost immediately after I reacted to my wife telling her she need not worry because they were only guys, I knew I had reacted – and it was not loving. And immediately (because of God working in my heart) I changed my tone and said I could understand why she was a bit frustrated – that it made sense and I was sorry.

I’d like to say that after 30 years of counseling couples how to love their mates, that I have it all down. Unfortunately I don’t. I do my best to not say or do things that are unkind and start conflict, but I don’t always succeed. You probably don’t either. What we must learn to do then is this:  as quickly as we are made aware of our error–our lack of love–we must humble ourselves to confess our wrong and make things right!

Question: Anyone else like to confess? :) You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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8 thoughts on “Why is communication so hard?

  1. A reminder to me of a recent lack of love towards my wife while with a couple from our church…in fact a couple we had taken through pre-martial counseling and married last spring. Classic thoughtless comment in their presence that required not only repentance towards my wife and to the couple. Thanks for the reminder and the transparency.

  2. Mark,
    You bring up a great point. As men we often “compartmentalize” our day and forget how the decisions and plans we make might affect someone else…especially our brides. When we are met with silence or even verbal opposition, our first fleshly or human response is “defend”, because of our pride and selfishness. If we only stopped, took the time to listen, and view the response from our wives vantage point and personal interest, it should not take us long to respond with love in an understanding way. Thank you for this reminder and encouragement.

    • You are welcome Randy. Taking the time to listen and view the picture from our spouses vantage point doesn’t come naturally. It’s why we need a God who changes our hearts! Thanks for writing us a note Randy!

  3. I know for me I get defensive when I am triggered by a comment or statement made that touches an area of my emotional life that has been wounded. Being more aware of and acknowledging my triggers has improved my communication. Knowing that all of us have trigger points has helped me to not take what others say or do personal and by not taking things personal I am triggered less and I am less defensive. All of us choose how we want to respond in any given situation and being more aware of our wounds and triggers helps us to make choices that leads healthier loving relationships.

    • Great thoughts Lenny! Knowing each other’s wounds and trigger points doesn’t mean we excuse things, BUT it enables us to be more gracious and patient with each other in our struggles to grow into better people! I always appreciate you sharing Lenny. Thanks man!