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Communication with Husbands; Children Learning to Apologize

Sep 4, 1995

My friend's husband doesn't find it easy to communicate with her. He hardly ever opens up about his personal struggles or problems. Whenever she asks him how he's doing, he says that he's fine -- even when she knows that he's having trouble at work. He just doesn't say too much. What can she do to improve things?
Wondering Friend

Many men find it difficult to communicate about internal, heartistic topics. It seems to be part of our culture that men are seldom trained to reveal their feelings. Many men don't know how to open up -- their communication muscles were seldom used. Other men are blocked by insecurities or by pride, or simply don't think very much about internal issues (which is a sad fact indeed.)

The good news is that it takes only one partner to start the ball rolling. If your friend constantly displays affection, love, respect and trust toward her husband, and shares her feelings and situation with him, he will gradually learn to trust that he can share things with her. At the same time, sometimes one just has to use a can opener to open up the proverbial can of worms. I constantly see scenes in movies where a couple are in the middle of a misunderstanding -- and one person walks away without resolving the problem. My wife and I always comment, "Go after him (or her!) Chase him down and keep talking!" But they seldom do.

The key is that at least one person has to be dogged in his or her pursuit of true love, harmony and clear, honest, loving communication. One person must keep going, even chasing the husband or wife, until the other person turns and says, "Ok, ok, I'll tell you what's bothering me!" Then, and only then, can a resolution of difficulties begin.

Tell your friend to not give up. Tell her to share her heart first, and then gently, lovingly work at him until he lets her in to his heart and soul. If she's committed to love him after he opens his heart to her, good things will happen.

My children are always fighting. I'm afraid that they're going to grow up and not like each other. How can I guide them so that they can fight less and maybe even learn how to get along and be friends?
Roslyn, from Richmond

I like to guide children through the process of caring for each other's "heartistic" situation. If one child hurts another, causing them to cry, I take the offender by the hand and walk with him to the hurt child. I then explain that he just made his sister cry, and isn't that a sad fact? I lead him through a series of questions, such as, "Do you like true love?" (Sometimes I have to tickle him until he says yes.) "Do you like it when your sister loves you?" (Yes.) "Do you want to love your sister?" (Yes.) "Do you want to make her cry?" (No.) "Should you have hurt her in such and such a way?" (Well .... no ...) And so on and so on.

When he finally agrees that he shouldn't hurt his sister, I ask him to hug and kiss his sister, and look her in the eye, and say "sorry." When he does, I then ask his sister to hug and kiss him back and say, "It's ok." They then hug each other and smile, and find, much to their surprise, that their bad feelings are gone -- at least until next time.

Have you noticed how many children (and adults) have almost no capacity to apologize to each other? Saying sorry is an expression of true unselfish love -- an indication that one really cares about the person that one hurt. If children don't say sorry, then they not only fail to take responsibility for the fact that they just hurt someone, but they also leave a painful and possibly resentful feeling in the other person's heart.

The purpose of saying sorry is to do more than accept responsibility for the infraction. The ultimate purpose is to restore the feeling of love between the offender and the victim. I like to teach children that they should say sorry until the hurt child can truly smile at them and forgive them. That means that the feeling of love between the two children will be restored and maintained -- with no accumulated baggage. If children learn to do this, and learn to serve each other with unselfish love, they will find that their relationship of love will grow and mature, rather than be blocked by historical pain that never gets cleared up.

Peter Falkenberg Brown is passionate about writing, publishing, public speaking and film. He hopes that someday he can live up to one of his favorite mottos: “Expressing God’s kind and compassionate love in all directions, every second of every day, creates an infinitely expanding sphere of heart.”

~ Deus est auctor amoris et decoris. ~

(Comments are moderated and must be approved.)
Peter Falkenberg Brown
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