I had a chance to be a part of a workshop held at MCWS last Saturday called the “Art of Communication in a Marriage.”
This workshop was presented by Steven J. Hernandez of Marriage Resource Center. Mr. Hernandez came to Islam six years back and has been an active member of the community. He presented the same workshop for couples last year as well at MCWS. He is a wonderful speaker who basically tells couples about ways and techniques through which they can have better communication with each other and avoid or deal with issues and problems that may arise in a married couple’s life.
The best part of this workshop was that since Mr. Hernandez is a Muslim, he addressed the issues in the light of Islam. It is a fact that Muslim marriages are quite different than compared to western marriages. Muslim couples may face many issues that a western person may not understand or agree with. That is why when Mr. Hernandez talked about communication in a marriage; he referred to the Prophet and his wife, Aisha’s behavior with each other, which is a motivator by itself.
The workshop was from 11:00am to 2:00pm and required registration ahead of time. The workshop started right on time but there were some couples which arrived a little later than the specified time. The room started filling up slowly and I think there were about 15 to 20 couples in all. Each couple was given a packet which had some papers in it and a few pages of exercises for the couples to go through and read by themselves.
Mr. Hernandez started by stating the goals of this workshop which were basically how to communicate with each other effectively and things to avoid while talking to each other that can make the situation worse.
For the couples who couldn’t attend this workshop, I want to offer them these wonderful tips or strategies which Mr. Hernandez talked about and which can definitely help couples in the long run. Here are the ten key points for a happy marriage:
1. Commitment to the marriage; is the couple ready to sacrifice for each other’s needs?
2. Satisfaction; overall satisfaction in a marriage.
3. Lack of violence and abuse.
4. Sexual fidelity and loyalty.
5. Effective communication
6. Effective conflict resolution
7. Friendship and spending time together
8. Intimacy and emotional support
9. Commitment to children
10. Duration and permanence
Mr. Hernandez then went over each of these points and explained how they should be handled. It is no secret that every couple has arguments or issues they don’t agree upon but the bigger problem arises when we don’t know how to handle them or how to communicate about it with our significant other. The handout which was given to us talked about the ground rules for communicating the message which I found very informative and enlightening. These rules were as follows:
1. Pick the right time to talk to your partner.
2. How you start is how you will finish.
3. Speak for yourself; refrain from beginning a conversation with “you.”
4. Be short and to the point.
5. It’s not safe to assume.
6. Stop, pause, listen.
7. Move on.
These are very important rules that couples can follow to have a calm and effective communication with each other.
The couples were also given some exercises to do while they were there in order to see how they communicate with each other. We were given a list of questions which we were supposed to answer and then share our responses with our spouses. One more aspect that Mr. Hernandez focused on was expressing our love or gratitude for our spouses. He talked about the five love languages, which are; finding a way to express our gratitude by giving gifts to each other, by words of affirmation, by receiving gifts, by acts of service, or by physical touch.
We may choose any way we are comfortable with but it should be done so that the spouses are appreciated.
Overall, I found the workshop very informative and helpful. Such workshops give us an insight into what we as couples may be lacking in our marriage or it may be something that we need to work on. No matter what the issue or what the circumstances, we all need some guidance once in a while and it never hurts anyone to gather some knowledge on a topic which affects a whole family.
We should not hesitate to attend such events because they bring us closer to our spouses in a way and helps us realize what we may be doing wrong or what we may be good at. Either ways, it’s a win-win situation!
I want to end with a few important facts that are critical in a communication. When we talk to each other,
Our words count as 7%, our body language counts as: 55%, and our voice or tone counts as: 38%.
I think if we can only work on this, we are half way there! Good luck to all the couples out there.
This information was a courtesy of National Healthy Marriage Resource Center and for more information you can go to: www.mimarriage.org