Dave, a broadcaster by profession, was in his 30s when he got married for the first time. He told his bride, "Remember, we must communicate about everything; that will make our marriage successful." A well-meaning friend of Dave's, who had been married 15 years, gave Dave this important advice before he married. Unfortunately, Dave only knew how to give orders; that's all he had learned about "communication" in the household in which he grew up. Therefore, he unwittingly bossed and bullied his wife. Dave would even praise his wife to friends, saying, "She is so quiet; she never nags me."
One day Dave's wife Kyra, having bottled up rage at not "being heard" for years, announced to Dave she was leaving. Needless to say, not much of their relationship was left by this time. Kyra wouldn't even consider therapy; afraid that Dave would dominate the therapy sessions as well. She left him, saying, "I'm tired of listening to you talk. You own the marriage and I'm just allowed to visit in it." Dave was sent emotionally reeling, stupefied, unable to fathom what had happened. See how easy it is for lack-of-communication to unravel a relationship? Dave may have been talking, but he wasn't communicating. No relationship has to reach this chronic "point of no return."
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If only Dave and his wife had learned how to communicate at the beginning of their marriage, instead of giving the subject lip-service. Perhaps they were both afraid of rejection, but if only they could have gotten past that fear, they could have at least grown together for a while.
Real communication actually proceeds level-by-level; it's not an all-or-nothing one-time occurrence. Let's look at the three major stages of communication:
Level One, Positive Communication:
This "dating game" stage of a relationship, the first few months, should keep its focus on positive communication. Find out about each other. Use compliments to draw each other out. Focus on your commonalities and how they can enhance your relationship. Talking is very important during this stage, but listening is just as vital. Rewarding each other with positive feedback, compliments, and reassurances can set the stage for closer contact. That is why it is complimentary to hold off a while before having sex. Get to know what each other likes first and savor the verbal foreplay.
Level Two, Intimate Communication:
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Here is the opportunity to explore the passionate power of words. Before becoming intimate, before having sex with your partner for the first time, find out what each other likes in bed. This is a level where both of you will feel sensitive. If you are about to take the plunge, talk about your needs more openly. Certainly if you were preparing a steak for your partner, you would select a good piece of meat and find out how your partner likes it cooked.