How Well Do You Communicate?

“LOVE Letter by a 60-Year-Old.” That was the theme of a sweepstakes contest by a bank in Japan a few years ago. It urged Japanese in their 50’s and 60’s to express their “honest feelings” toward their spouses. One contestant wrote to his wife: “You may laugh, but I’ll regret it if I don’t say it, so here I go, in a loud voice: Thank you for marrying me.”

In a number of cultures, including some in the Orient, free expression of one’s feelings has been discouraged. Yet, over 15,000 responded to that love-letter contest. It was so popular that a follow-up contest was conducted, and books were published based on the letters. This suggests that deep inside, many yearn to express how they feel about their cherished mate. Others, though, decline to do so. Why? It may well be because it takes a measure of effort and skill for them to let others​—such as a mate—​understand how they feel.

Hitoshi Kato, who wrote a book on retirement, says that among older couples in Japan, many divorce proceedings are initiated by wives because of deep-rooted resentments accumulated over the years. “But,” he says, “it is also a result of the couple’s not talking things out when faced with crises.”

Upon retirement, a husband may be surprised when his wife hands him a notice of divorce. For many years the couple may not have discussed how they felt about each other. Husband and wife may have tried to express their feelings but were unable to  keep the conversation on a positive note. Instead of building a closer relationship, they found themselves embroiled in repeated arguments.

How can husband and wife deal with their differences in a peaceful way and communicate their feelings in a pleasant manner? You may be interested to know that the most practical suggestions are found, not in a recent book by a marriage counselor, but in an ancient book that has been appreciated for centuries​—the Bible.