“Retreat with Pope Francis” Day Six: The Family as the Birthplace of Communication and Love
“In the family, we learn to embrace and support one another, to discern the meaning of facial expressions and moments of silence, to laugh and cry together….This greatly helps us to understand the meaning of communication as recognizing and creating closeness.” (World Communications Day 2015, January 23, 2015)
Breaking open the theme:
Communication skills are commonly taught in marriage preparation classes, and for good reason. Communication happens every day in a couple’s relationship. Good communication solidifies a relationship while bad communication leads to squabbles and misunderstandings. Pope Francis encourages married couples to see communication as a way of building communion: “creating closeness.” When done respectfully and with love, simple requests, planning the day’s activities, and even constructive criticism can foster a sense of unity. Learning to listen well shows respect to the other person. Families have a unique role in modeling how patient, loving communication is possible.
John and Doreen knew something needed to be changed in the way they spoke to each other. After 22 years of marriage, subtle (or not-so-subtle) tones of disrespect and sarcasm had crept into their words. Both of them often felt hurt and misunderstood. But they wanted to improve their communication, and little by little learned to speak gently and respectfully to each other. It took practice, but they began to see how asking politely for the salt and listening attentively to the other person’s story created a renewed sense of unity and closeness.
Put it into Practice:
- Pray: Prayer is a kind of communication, with God! Try praying out loud with your family, sharing with your loving Father the ups and downs of your day.
- Reflect: What are your “triggers” for bad communication? For example, do you tend to communicate poorly when you are rushing out the door, or when you’re tired? Talk about how you can better deal with those situations.
- Do: Spend a half hour in heartfelt communication with your spouse: make eye contact, have no distractions, and be attentive. Take turns, and notice how pleasant it is to be heard.
Prayer for Married Couples:
Almighty and eternal God,
You blessed the union of husband and wife
So that we might reflect the union of Christ with his Church:
look with kindness on us.
Renew our marriage covenant.
Increase your love in us,
and strengthen our bond of peace
so that, [with our children],
we may always rejoice in the gift of your blessing.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.