Recently, Bird and I went to the mall to do some shopping. It was the weekend, therefore, the crowd was fairly dense. Being the couple that we are, we were holding hands as we walked along. As we made our way through the mall, we would from time to time have to navigate around oncoming people or people we wished to pass. Because we were holding hands, we were able to direct each other’s steps by means of simple pressure of the hand or a slight pull into the desired direction to avoid being separated. Our handholding also made it impossible for people behind us to walk in-between us. Once we had completed our shopping, we discussed our next destination, and headed to the parking lot.
Okay, what’s so special about that? The Bible says “how can two walk together unless they are agreed?” (Amos 3:3). This agreement is the product of communication, which has to take place in many forms to make the journey of two people successful. Without that communication, at some point there would be separation, confusion, and even frustration. This is true in shopping trips and even more pronounced in relationships. As I examined our mundane little trip, I found examples of that concept plain to see.
The first part of the communication is to ensure a common destination. Bird and I discussed our plan for the day, and the mall was one of the places we knew we wanted to visit. Once that decision had been made, we talked over the stores we wished to see, and even what we needed and wanted from those stores. In relationships, we also need to communicate our goals, not just our major goals, but also our detailed goals. This reduces the likelihood of future conflict when major goals align, but detailed goals do not. An example of this conflict could be as simple as two friends who have agreed to go to the movies, but once there, they are at odds over what movie they wish to see. A far more serious example is when two people agree that they want to be married, only to discover that he is planning the wedding for five years from now, while she is renting the hall for next weekend.
Once the major and detailed goals align, navigating toward those goals also requires communication. Our holding hands was not just our sappy display of affection, but it allowed us to communicate to each other what direction we planned on taking while allowing one of us to plot the course to keep us together. This was important, as the mall was crowded, and we could have easily become separated. In relationships this is done by consistent verbal communication. This is an often overlooked part of many relationships. It can be argued that once we agree upon a goal, the other person will instinctively choose the exact path I would take to get to the goal. This is an assumption, of course. If the conversation is not continuous, we will find that distractions will cause us to take different paths with varying destinations. Again, using the two friends and a movie as an example, a traffic jam may cause one person to arrive 45 minutes later than the other. The one that arrives first may feel annoyed that his or her companion is not at the agreed meeting place and return home. Had there been a phone call, the waiting person would have been able to occupy their time, and the two friends would eventually meet at the agreed upon destination. In the case of an engaged couple, an unexpected mishap with the caterers could lead to he or she choosing mini quiches as an appetizer, only to later find out the fiance hates quiche. Another advantage of communication is that it hinders those who would come between two people while they were unaware. Our holding hands kept people who were trying to pass us from forcing their way between us. In relationships, continued communication prevents intentional interruptions from damaging eventual goals. It allows the couple to remind each other of their plans, and they plan around diversions and distractions, if necessary.
Lastly, back to our moviegoers. Let's just say they’ve decided on what they will see, where they will see it, and when they will see it. Then another friend calls desiring to talk. Because the two movie goers understand through frequent conversation how excited they are to hang out together via a movie, the caller’s need is rescheduled to a time where it would not interfere with their current plans. How does this work for an engaged couple? Well, when his mom calls with a list of 25 additional family members that MUST be included on the guest list, he can look to the budget and the list that they had just agreed upon and stand firm. Usually, when people are aware of the depth of one's communication, they are less likely to present situations that could sway you from your goals.
Now, the job is done. The mall trip has been completed. Bird and I then discussed our next step. Do we want to go get lunch before we go to our next destination; do we want to go straight to our next destination; or do we want to go home? Even after the goals are accomplished, there is still room for communication. Does the partnership continue? If so how? Have we met all of our objectives? Can we work together to meet future objectives? Let’s look in on our movie friends. They are now stepping out of the theatre and discussing their options. Do they each go home or get a bite to eat? Does that previous friend’s call need to be attended to now? Let us look in on our newly married couple (yes, they made it). They now have to communicate to resolve future goals. No, not things like babies and where to live. That’s minor. I'm referring to the need to navigate the minefield of whose mother gets the first visit (and believe me, that requires intense communication).
In conclusion, throughout all of our relationships we must have constant and effective communication if we are to be successful. It will allow us to not only plan our destination, but cope with distractions and adjust to circumstances. Only then can we walk together and be agreed.
Heading to deeper waters,
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Just a little birdy and fish about the Father's business. Helping to better the world one blog at a time.