Communication in Marriage: Art or Luck?

Hints on How Spouses Can Keep Conflict Under Control

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ROME, JUNE 28, 2004 ( There are “no perfect marriages,” so it’s crucial that couples and families learn the art of communication, says a philosophy dean and marriage counselor.

At a recent European symposium of university professors on the family, Father Michael Ryan, dean of philosophy of the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum, spelled out two key elements that undermine communication.

First, he said, is “not realizing that there is a problem,” and second is “laying blame.”

In his talk, entitled “Communication in Marriage: Magic, Chance, Luck or Art?” the dean emphasized the difference between being hurt and being wounded.

“There are things that cause in us hurt, annoyance and anger, but they do not leave a serious rupture,” he said.

On the other hand, emotional wounds as more “dangerous because they close us off and distance us from others” he said.

Father Ryan, a Legionary, suggested these ways for spouses to manage conflict:

— Ask for more information; try to get the other to explain clearly what happened.

— Take the blame even if there had not been any intention to harm anyone. It is not the same to take the blame and to be responsible, the priest noted.

— Assure the other that the spouses love each other. Demonstrate to your spouse that the last thing you wanted to do is to hurt him or her.

— Commit yourself to avoid all things that might lead to hurt feelings.

Father Ryan said that “with a happier life, married couples can dedicate themselves more to the great mission they have as spouses.” The priest has worked as a marriage counselor in Mexico City and as a spiritual director for the Grow in Family project in Rome

The symposium on the family attracted 400 European university professors.

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