"What's the point of talking, you don't listen to me anyway." Ever heard or said this statement before? I have. It start out ever so innocently. A husband tunes in a sporting event and tunes out his wife's attempts to be heard. A wife gets so wrapped up in her daily problems she barely listens as her husband talks about his own. Before long, without realizing how it came about, a deadly silence starts to grow between them. The plain truth is, listening, like marriage, is a partnership; a shared responsibility between the person speaking and the person listening. And if the listener doesn't show genuine interest and sensitivity to what's being said, the speaker will stop talking. And communication will fade. Daily conversation or dialogue is a key ingredient to a successful marriage. In our personal and business lives we are constantly trying to communicate with the people around us. Notice I said "trying" During the past 23 years of my efforts to be an effective husband-communicator, I have made numerous mistakes and have observed others doing the same, as we attempt to make each other understand. Those experiences have given me a compelling desire to put down on paper the points I consider to be most critical in successful marriage communications. I find most of us are just plain lazy when it comes to communicating. We may work hard at our professions, but if we have developed sloppy habits or poor attitudes in communicating to our males — or to others, we aren't solving anything. We're only creating additional problems. Consider the following aids to successful conversation. Select several to put to work in your marriage relationship. Keep your communication alive and healthy. Experience a walk-talk communication. Exercise plus dialogue refreshes the body, mind and marriage Hand in hand, share the day, happy moments or personal concerns. Begin an appreciation marathon. Sincerely and lovingly tell each other how much you appreciate each other and what specifically is beautiful or wonderful about the other as you walk together, eat together, relax in bed or share a beautiful spot in nature. Candidly list each of your mutual needs and discuss them. (You may not know your mate as well as you think.) Set goals for meeting these needs by writing them down. Check back frequently to see if needs are being met. When conflict arises, discuss it and try to work it out in a mature way. Sometimes compromise is necessary, or alternate solutions need to be tried. Try a confession session. You goofed, did wrong, "wiped out" emotionally. You'd like to blame everyone else but yourself. This is a powerful love-building time. Learn to say "I'm sorry" and mean it. Use "I'm upset" dialogue. You are getting angry. You're about to lose your temper! Hold it! Think calmly, then speak. "Sweety, I love you dearly, but what you are doing is making me angry. I really don't want to be angry at you. Will you help me?" Enjoy some pillow talk. Before going to sleep, chat about the good events of the day. Set ground rules: No problems are to be discussed. No subject of this nature would be complete "without consulting God's Word. The Bible has a lot to say about applied communications. Over the years I have found the following basic marriage communication guidelines invaluable. They are all tried and proven. • Be a ready listener and do not answer until your spouse has finished talking. Proverbs 18:13; James 1:19. • Be slow to speak. Think first. Speak in such a way that your mate can understand and accept what you say. Proverbs 15:23, 28. • Speak the truth always, but do it in love and consideration. Do not exaggerate. Ephesians 4:15, 25; Colossians 3:9. • Do not use silence to frustrate your spouse. Explain why you are hesitant to talk at this time. • Don't allow yourself to become involved in quarrels. It is possible to disagree without quarreling. Quarreling only tears down. Proverbs 17:14, Romans 13:13, Ephesians 4:26, 31. • When you are in the wrong, admit it and ask for forgiveness. James 5:16. When your mate confesses a mistake to you, be forgiving. Be sure it is for gotten and not brought up again. Proverbs 17:9, Ephesians 4:32, Colossians 3:13. • Do not respond in anger. Use a soft and kind response. Proverbs 14:29; 15:1. • Avoid nagging. This applies to both male and female. Proverbs 10:19; 17:9. • Do not blame or criticize. Instead try to encourage and edify. I Thessalonians 5:11. If your spouse verbally attacks, criticizes or blames you, do not respond in the same manner. Romans 12:17, 21. • Try to understand your mate's opinion. Make allowances for differences. Be concerned about his or her interests. Ephesians 4:2. We all are familiar with the statement. It's not what you say, but how you say it!" Mark Twain once remarked that the difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and lightning bug. Love doesn't come automatically in marriage, but love matures in marriage as two people work to communicate. When was the last time you really talked with your spouse?