Communication has long been seen as the key to a healthy marriage. Modern experts call into question this wisdom, suggesting that it is not communication, but connection that is the key to lasting marital happiness.
Communication in relationships is often misunderstood. Most people think that good communication involves choosing the right words and learning how to listen better. Or learning how to ‘read’ another person’s body language. This is a very narrow understanding and it can mislead us into thinking that all we need to do is learn some ‘communication techniques’. A more helpful approach is to think about ‘connection’.
Root of the word
In fact, when we break the word ‘communication’ down to its Latin roots, we get: • ‘com’ – meaning ‘together’ • ‘uni’ – meaning ‘one’, and • ‘ation’ – which means ‘being’. In other words, the essence of communication is about being together as one – it’s about connection, about being united in all our personhood, and that means more than just doing the activity of communication well. It includes the spiritual dimension; it’s about being one in body and soul.
Communication as connection
In marriage, effective ‘communication’, will include the dimensions of both body and soul. We engage the body in the basic activity of communication whether it’s talking, writing, various facial expressions or tone of voice. It is only fully personal and human however, when we also engage the soul, our internal psycho-spiritual selves. The soul dimension is all about emotional connection. Without it, communication is shallow and is merely an activity our bodies do. So we’re talking but there’s no emotional sharing or vulnerability.
Soulful vs Soulless
Soulless communication can be technically very good, but it will never satisfy the hunger of the heart for true connection. In contrast, soulful communication is intimacy at its best. Communication becomes genuine intimacy when there is emotional vulnerability. That means a willingness to both bare our souls, and receive and be influenced by the other’s soul. It requires a sense of reverence for the other, a humility and awe in the face of the incredible trust that this person has placed in us. Communication skills can help us create a safe environment for this trust to flower, but it will not deliver the longed for communion of body and soul, unless we subjugate our technique to our personal vulnerability.
Francine & Byron Pirola are the founders and principal authors of the SmartLoving series. They are passionate about living Catholic marriage to the full and helping couples reach their marital potential. They have been married since 1988 and have five children.
Their articles may be reproduced for non commercial purposes with appropriate acknowledgement and back links.