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What Sitcoms Teach Us About Honest Communication In Marriage

By June 28, 2024No Comments

Why do well-written sitcoms make us laugh?

Shows like Seinfeld, Everybody Loves Raymond, and Home Improvement exaggerate real-life stories. Kaylee Gadepalli, in her March 8, 2024 article on wrote,

“Life is about the people we share it with, and between the one-liners and jump-cuts, the sitcom offers an exploration of what matters most. It focuses on exaggerated versions of those around you and can bring forth profound realizations by mirroring our actions and choices. We see ourselves reflected in groups of people who make it through whatever circumstances arise at the moment because we do the same thing every time we get out of bed. Every sitcom, no matter how far-fetched, is inspired by some universal experience.”

We laugh because we relate to these scenarios.

On sitcoms and in real life, the funniest moments often happen from miscommunication.

For the first 25 years of our marriage, Dave and I thought we communicated well.

We rarely argued, sought to resolve differences quickly, and maintained a peaceful atmosphere in our home—all reasonable communication goals. However, what we didn’t utilize to attain these goals was honesty and authenticity.

Sometimes learning to communicate with another person feels like this.

You have great intentions at the start of your conversation. Perhaps you want to get to know them, are interested in their story, and ask good follow-up questions. But somehow, the conversation heads in a direction you never intended.

Part of the betrayal recovery journey involves learning better communication skills.

1. Listen well.

You’ve probably been in conversations where one person seeks to one-up whatever story another person has. They dominate the conversation. Or perhaps, when they don’t get the response they desire, they repeat themselves, intending to drive the point home.
You walk away from that conversation understanding that person wasn’t interested in you.

Maybe you’ve been in a conversation with another person who routinely greets another person while you are talking. Their eyes flit around the room. Eventually, you excuse yourself, realizing they weren’t interested in you. At least that’s how you feel.

Then, some people expertly engage with others. They ask great questions and listen intently. When you talk with someone like this, you know you have their complete attention. They focus on your face. If you aren’t used to this type of interaction, you might feel uncomfortable. You realize you are the center of their world at this moment. Their goal is to spend time with you to get to know you. You feel seen and heard at a deep level. I imagine this is what it was like to talk with Jesus.

Learning to listen well when communicating with your husband takes risk. After all, he’s wounded your heart deeply. Past communication patterns involved lies, secrets, and even denial. Therefore, your defenses are on high alert, looking for any indication of these patterns. You don’t trust him. Part of recovery counseling and coaching involves learning new ways to converse with and listen well to each other.

How well do you listen first? It’s a skill every person can work on for the rest of their life.

2. Pursue a healthy self-image.

I used to think that if I didn’t verbally contribute to a conversation then I didn’t matter. What would others think if I didn’t have a viewpoint on the topic? I worried I’d be perceived as stupid, not up with current events, or uninteresting. Worse than not having an opinion was asking a question about the topic that let everyone know I had no idea what they were talking about. 😧

The first few months after our D-Day, Dave and I struggled to talk about the wounds in our marriage. His porn use triggered feelings of inadequacy, worthlessness, and ugliness. I felt pushed aside, like I didn’t matter. Facing my grief and anger, Dave felt shame, unworthiness, and disgust with himself. We struggled to talk about the issues with emotional intelligence and attunement.

The Bible tells us to be slow to speak, slow to become angry, and quick to listen. God knows we defend ourselves vigorously even when it isn’t necessary. During the initial days of recovery, Dave and I faced several personal choices.

Did I believe he loved me?
Did he believe I would fight for the marriage?
Did I want to recover?
Did he want to walk away from porn?
Would we choose to start over and rebuild trust?

One practice I use in highly emotional situations is to pause to take a few deep, intentional breaths. That quick pause gives my brain time to catch up and move from an irrational response to a rational thought. Once I feel a bit less emotional, I tell myself to listen well and ask open-ended questions. This doesn’t happen ideally every time, but when I succeed, I can disconnect myself from the issue we need to discuss.

Do you need help disentangling your self-image from the wound? Let’s talk.

3. Speak honestly.

Carol Juergensen Sheets, aka Carol the Coach, understands the importance of honesty in the recovery process. A person struggling with any type of habitual negative behavior struggles to be truthful. The struggler’s spouse becomes more skeptical and jaded in conversations. The struggler lies so often, either by omission or commission, that the spouse believes nothing.

Honesty needs to become the cornerstone of the relationship to rebuild trust. The video linked below takes about 11 minutes, but Carol the Coach lays out an easy-to-grasp foundation for rigorous honesty.

Rigorous Honesty is the Key to Sexual Addiction Recovery

I remember when we first started practicing rigorous honesty. I was shocked at how many times a day I hesitated to tell the complete truth about anything. Whether it was buying an iced tea while running an errand or feeling angry at Dave for some slight offense, I struggled to tell the complete truth.

However, we learned the healing that comes from rigorous honesty. How often do you withhold information from your spouse because you fear a negative response? When was the last time you didn’t ask a tough question because you weren’t sure you could handle his answer?

Honesty had to become the hallmark of our relationship if we hoped to remain married. Trust requires complete truth about everything in your life. Relationships not built on rigorous honesty eventually wither.

On a scale of one to five, how honest are you with yourself? How about with your husband?

Even under the best circumstances and in the most solid relationships, communication issues arise.

Just do a quick Google search for communication breakdown memes, check out what pops up, and enjoy a good laugh. Learning to laugh at yourself and your communication faux pas also builds trust. Dave and I have several inside jokes related to these communication mishaps that we laugh over often.

When that confusing communication sign pops up, practice listening well, pursuing a healthy self-image, and speaking honestly to use the issue to draw closer together. Need help? Let’s talk.

  • Kirsten D Samuel

    I empower Christian wives to discover they are seen, loved, and heard. These women find the freedom to be who they are beyond their partner’s struggles, and find hope that there is a life worth living.

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