Nine o’clock was quickly approaching.
We all waited with anticipation for the phone to ring. We could always count on our family phone call.“Is it 9:00 yet, Mommy?” the boys would ask every ten minutes as they waited impatiently to talk to their Daddy. I loved seeing them excited to talk to Ron, but I was also painfully aware that sharing a phone call between 3 people meant less time for Ron and I to connect. We had a lot of catching up to do in a little bit of time. We had to make it count.
Before Ron went to prison, we had as much time as we wanted to spend together and talk to each other. But we didn’t do it. Communication was not a priority. Our relationship was shallow at best. Now that Ron was in prison, communicating became a top priority. It was the only thing we could do to make our marriage stronger. Dating became talking. Being intimate was sharing our thoughts and dreams together. Talking and listening together suddenly became one of the most valuable things in our relationship.
We had no idea how to communicate
We had a huge obstacle in front of us because we had no idea how to really communicate. Oh, we could both talk – a lot. But it didn’t feel like communication, it felt more like competition. We were both trying to monopolize the conversation and drag the other along. Or, if we disagreed, we were trying to prove that we were right. Neither of us were listening to understand each other.
We didn’t know how to use communication to build a healthier, permanent, thriving relationship.
We decided to start over
This meant starting over with each other. We set aside everything we thought we knew about each other and began to share who we were with one another. We changed our conversations from talking about schedules, lawyers, and kids to talking about our goals as individuals, a couple, and a family. Instead of feeling obligation to talk, we began to look forward to talking to each other — like a date!
My husband and I learned how to communicate in a way that made us a stronger team together. A big part of changing how you connect to each other is changing the way you think as you change the things you do and say. Here are some Couple Communication tips to help you build your relationship stronger in spite of the prison experience.
Remember how you felt when you first met your partner, and the joy of discovering who she or he was like? Too many of us, caught in day-to-day stresses and the distractions of cell phones and email, forget the simple pleasure of conversations that bring us closer.
- Decide that you are on the same team, not rivals. When you see your spouse as being on your side, you will begin to rebuild trust and safety. Disagreements will still come, but now you are not enemies – each trying to win, you are on the same team. As teammates, you are finding solutions together.
- Listen at least as much as you talk. Listening is KEY to building a strong relationship that will last. Listening takes more self-control than talking and creates a culture of mutual respect.
- Seek to understand. When you stop looking for reasons to agree or disagree with your spouse, you can listen for understanding. You will learn so much more about your spouse, how they see the world, and their dreams and visions for the future.
- Talk regularly. Don’t just go through the weeks, months, and years – make the time count. Talking together intertwines your lives and creates memories you will share together across your lives.
Practicing these tips will help you build your marriage stronger every day and prepare you both to navigate the rest of your lives together. Healthy communication takes effort, but it pays off with a lifetime of closeness as a couple.
I am rooting for you!