Communication: Back to the Basics Part 4

I hope that the first 3 parts of this series have been helpful reminders of simple ways to reduce conflict and improve communication in your marriages and families. There is one more golden rule to discuss, and this one is the primary phrase that we heard our parents and teachers say over and over when we were growing up.

Rule #4: Treat others the way you want to be treated. When all else fails, and when we can’t remember in the heat of the moment those constructive suggestions that we wanted to stick to, this rule encompasses all the others. Take a moment to consider how you would want the other person to act toward you if the situation were reversed.  It may help you to keep a cool head and to be more considerate with your thoughts and actions, which is more likely to lead to the results that you desire.

Let’s recap the rules:

1. Use nice words. 

2. Listen while others are speaking. 

3. Ask for help (and seek wise counsel). 

4. Treat others the way you want to be treated.


If you apply all of these basic rules in your relationships, don’t give up if you find there are still times of conflict and turmoil. Even the healthiest relationships still have disagreements and misunderstandings—we are all still human, after all! Arguments aren’t always negative or hurtful to relationships if we do them with these rules in mind. They can actually be a very stimulating form of communication that highlights our passion and emotional connection with certain subjects.  They are a way for us to achieve a greater understanding of what makes us tick and what ticks us off, and why. A good habit to start is to re-address a conflictual topic after the initial spark of emotion has passed and everyone has had a chance to cool down.  There is usually less emotional energy at this point, so discussions can take place in a more calm, rational way. There will always be ‘hot spots’ in every relationship that may never be fully resolved, but they can still be dealt with and discussed productively. Over time, we may find that these disagreements can actually bring us together rather than push us apart, as years of discussions lead to a greater understanding of and appreciation for the other’s perspective.  Both heated and calm disputes can lead to fruitful and successful communication in your family. Families don’t have to agree on everything in order to be healthy and happy.  I would love to hear how getting ‘back to the basics’ has impacted the couples and families in our community!

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