Plain Truth Magazine
June-July 1978
Volume: Vol XLIII, No.6
Issue: ISSN 0032-0420
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Brian Knowles  

When two unique individuals live in the same house and share the same bedroom, sooner or later there's going to be friction. When the big blowup comes, will those two people be able to communicate well enough to iron things out? Or will they be able to communicate at all? One of the major causes of marital breakdown is the failure to communicate effectively. This article will show how to do it well enough to avoid family arguments and successfully go about marital detente.

   In this iconoclastic age when many things are being questioned and very little appears to be sacred, even the time-honored institution of marriage is falling on hard times. What was formerly considered the basic building block of any stable society is now seriously threatened in many quarters. A number of psychologists have suggested that marriage might soon be obsolete.
   The symptoms of marital misery are everywhere present in modern society. What has caused the erosion of the marriage institution in modern times? Why do marriages often fail to endure?
   The major cause of marital breakdown seems to be the failure to communicate effectively and properly. Somehow couples lose the ability to converse after the initial novelty of marriage wears off. Communication is often reduced to such profundities as "Pass the salt, please," or "What's on TV tonight?"

The "Pass-the-Salt" Syndrome

   Many marriages suffer from this massive communications breakdown. To illustrate, let's take a look at Joe and Marge, an average non-communicating couple. It's the beginning of a typical day. They stagger bleary-eyed to the breakfast table and take their positions behind the morning paper. Although Joe looks calm on the surface, he's inwardly seething. Marge has forgotten to pick up his good suits at the cleaners, and now it's too late. He'll have to entertain an important client in a sport jacket with a gravy stain. But he doesn't say anything to Marge - he doesn't really want to talk to her anyway. She had one of her convenient headaches again last night - he's still smarting from the rejection but he doesn't know how to bring it up without starting a marathon battle that will make him late for work. So he focuses his interest on the sports page.
   An occasional mumble or grunt finds its way around or over the newspaper. Every so often a whole phrase or sentence shatters the silence. Marge is hiding herself behind the women's section. She, too, has a bone to pick. Joe has come home late three nights in a row without an explanation. She knows he's got some terribly important job-related problems on his mind, but instead of letting her in on what's happening he talks it over with his drinking buddies on the way home. She resents the way he takes her for granted - expecting her to keep the home front running smoothly while he ignores her except when it's time for bed. She feels a small pang of guilt when she sees his sloppy jacket, but it's soon replaced by a wicked inner glow of satisfaction - at least he can't take her for granted this morning.
   After breakfast, Joe heads out the door oblivious to his wife's thoughts. She gives him a perfunctory peck on the cheek as he rushes off to fight the morning traffic.
   That evening Joe returns home late again, exhausted from the day's pressures and the nerve-racking rush-hour traffic. He heads for his favorite chair and flips on the TV. He doesn't feel much like talking as he clutches another cold beer and glues his eyes to the news. Then Marge serves dinner and the "pass-the-salt" syndrome again appears. Marge would like to unload on Joe, but he really doesn't want to hear it and irritatedly says so. After dinner he collapses in front of the TV, while Marge cleans up the dinner dishes. Later she silently joins him before the one-eyed monster. Things are quiet, even peaceful, but their marriage is not happy.
   How can Joe and Marge break out of this rut? Are they trapped forever in a lifeless relationship that only divorce can remedy? Or are there ways to get their resentments and needs out in the open so they can be worked on? Can they discuss their mutual desires without getting into it hassle or free-for-all?
   There are ways to communicate without tears, to discuss problems without throwing dishes.

How To Resolve Family Differences

   Ideally, the longer two people are married the more they should learn to be in harmony with each other's special needs and desires. But when differences do arise, how they're handled can have a big effect on the marriage relationship.
   Especially during the first few years of marriage, most couples will probably have to do a lot of adjusting to each other's ways and habits. Things such as how he likes his eggs done or who gets first crack at the morning paper may loom large at first.

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Plain Truth MagazineJune-July 1978Vol XLIII, No.6ISSN 0032-0420