Communication is NOT the most important thing

Communication is NOT the most important thing.

What? That doesn’t seem right.

I once had someone ask me: “What is the most important part of marriage? Is it communication?”

No one had ever asked me that. Then, it occurred to me that it’s not communication, it’s connection.

The more I thought about that, the more I liked it. I liked it so much I called our non-profit Connected Marriage.

In Genesis 2:18 it says: “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.'”

I used to puzzle over the word “helper.” To me, a helper is a servant. At a restaurant, this is someone that I tip. At best, it’s an assistant. I interpreted that verse as saying that your wife is someone to serve you. So, I studied it a bit more.

This Hebrew word (ezer) in the old testament means something much different. It is used 21 times in the Old Testament. It was used in the Old Testament most often in military situations or referring to God himself. It was used in a way that suggested the person would die or be in deep trouble without that help.

Psalm 70:5 says: “But as for me, I am poor and needy; come quickly to me, O God. You are my help and my deliverer; Lord, do not delay.”

This is a different way of thinking. Your spouse is someone you turn to when you feel poor and needy. This is someone that you can turn to for comfort, support and soothing. This is indispensable help. This is about having someone by your side walking together with you. This is a fantastic view of marriage. I come home from a long day at work and turn to my spouse for comfort. I am safe with this person. I am connected.

My wife and I were once on an airplane and we had a 6 hour flight. We were teaching the next day on conflict management and we spent much of the flight time talking about it. We were sitting in a row with three chairs. My wife and I were sitting together and another woman was sitting beside us. That poor woman had to listen to us talk about managing conflict for about 4 hours. At the end of that time, she turned to us and told us about her husband. She said that when they get into an argument, he would withdraw. The next morning he would leave coffee by the side of her bed. To her, that action communicated an apology. It said that he was sorry. It said that he wanted to be with her. Communication was done by actions and not by words.

That wasn’t the way that we suggested resolving conflict, but it was working for this couple.

One couple that we worked with were at each other’s throats. They were continually arguing and they felt disconnected. They attended our class and they heard our talk on building up your connection by working on positive interactions. They came back and reported that they had a fantastic week. I asked them what was different. They said that they spent a lot of time together and were trying to be nice to each other. This increased their sense of security and connection. I asked about their conflict. They said it made it easier to talk through some difficult issues. For this couple, spending time together helped with conflict.

I know that couple still has some work to do on communication. Talking about their conflict was much easier when they worked on their connection. They were less likely to fall back into their poor behaviors.

Of course communication is important, but connection is more important.