Simple three-part communication technique makes your marriage better: Make a “good sandwich”…Part 3 in the Love Talk series

Peanut Butter on Bread with Peanuts

My tummy was rumbling when we returned from our brisk and blustery morning walk.

And the first thing I thought of eating was a Skippy peanut butter sandwich on Wonder white bread.

At least for a few frivolous moments!!

I’m doing a candida cleanse — easier than the one we did three years ago when my internal environment was a little less “clean”  — and that along with following an SCD approach to eating for health reasons is very restrictive. But I digress.

As my hunger stirred memories of a childhood favorite it reminded me of a long and tedious day working in the Tower. Craving said sandwich I texted my beloved Michael stating what the stress of the moment was making me think. Without being asked he appeared within the hour with a jar of Skippy peanut butter and a loaf of Wonder white bread.

I was in heaven!

His simple act of kindness in response to my communicating a desire made me feel heard and loved. It is one of the sweetest memories of our early months of marriage.

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Making a “good sandwich” when talking with your husband can have the same positive impact.

It opens his heart to clearer communication, a fundamental cornerstone of a good marriage.

Married couples talk all the time, for better and for worse, but when the topic is controversial conflict can arise if you are not careful in how you present your words.

A simple three-part technique — consisting of two parts positive with the problem sandwiched between — goes a long way in putting your heart right and affects your husband’s ability to receive what you have to say.

1. Open with a true, positive statement. Never flattery which can be used to manipulate, but sincere respect and gratitude for your husband, your marriage. This is what I wrote Michael in an email requesting a time to speak about a situation that was deeply troubling my heart.

I love you and I love how you and I are growing into the people and the couple God wants us to be. And learning lessons together. Sometimes hard. And though our journey can present challenges at times, I am so glad to be walking by your side, growing every step along the way, and it encourages me to see you humbly pursing all God has for you! So thanks for being YOU, my Michael.

2. Then in simple polite language present the problem, why it troubles you and possible ways to approach a resolution.

3. In conclusion, reaffirm your respect for him and all he contributes to make your marriage the wonderful growing union it is.

In a marriage of two writers it sometimes works best for us to lay out our thoughts or concerns in an email giving the other time to ponder and pray before replying. This consideration paves the way to an excellent meeting of minds when we finally sit down to talk together.

Our recent communication was greatly enhanced by applying this method. After our talk we went hand-in-hand on a date that turned out to be quite the memorable adventure!

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Perhaps you’d like to give it a try with your hubby? Or wife? Good communication makes for an open love line between soul mates and helps to make your marriage better.

And Michael and I are continuing our journey of reading through Love Talk during Lent. We are learning much. Here are three of many communication techniques outlined in Dr. Les and Leslie Parrott’s book that can help you improve your love talk with the man you most love:

Making Time for Talk — You can accomplish this the old-fashioned way: sitting still without multi-tasking, lingering over your dinner conversation, taking advantage of a quiet house when the kids are in bed before you fall asleep, turning off the radio when you are driving in the car, or turning off the TV when it is simply background noise — so you can talk.

We like to schedule a “meeting” when we know we will have ample, relaxed, uninterrupted time to share our hearts. And praying about and thinking through the subject before we sit down together makes for a more productive conversation.

Attending Skills — Describe the physical and psychological attention you give your partner during a conversation. These are the non-verbals that can make or break your connection…eye contact is key to staying connected…you should lean slightly toward your partner, as long as you’re relaxed…avoid gestures that might be distracting…and {pick} a space that provides proximity to one another, a degree of privacy and a pleasant mood.

Clarifying Skills — Misunderstanding does not result from not hearing the words but from not clarifying the meaning of words.

Sometimes I’ll say something to Michael knowing exactly what I mean but he doesn’t perceive it in quite the same way. And vice versa. We are learning to ask each other questions in an attempt to better understand where the other is coming from before rushing to answer.

And Michael reminds us to always ascribe the best motives to the other’s heart. We also seek to understand the other before seeking to be understood.

When you stop for a moment and look at it from this perspective it will soften your own heart so you can really hear your spouse’s words and that makes for much more agreeable communication.

Most married partners can use reminders on how to communicate in a truly loving, authentic style. It’s never too late to learn and this valuable skill can transform a marriage.

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So please continue following along on Thursdays during Lent for help in improving communication in your marriage. I’ll be sharing what Michael and I are learning from Love Talk and how we’re doing with these new skills!

Join us?

You can order your copy of Love Talk and the workbooks — one for herone for him— by clicking these links now.

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Read Part 1:  Join us on our journey in couple communication

Read Part 2:  Being real with your words increases marital intimacy

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20 thoughts on “Simple three-part communication technique makes your marriage better: Make a “good sandwich”…Part 3 in the Love Talk series

  1. Sheila, I love your words today. I am next to you on Susan’s linkup. I have been trying to practice many of these things, so I laughed when I saw I was next to you today. God wants to reiterate these in my mind. Much love to you as you continually bless me. Have a great weekend.

    • Thanks, Kelly. Wishing you a great weekend, too. First of spring and it’s SNOWING!!! You’re a stones throw from me in Fairfield so I’m guessing you have the white stuff too? Always so glad to hear that my words help and bless you. 🙂 And your words to me are always a lovely encouragement. Blessings and hugs to you and yours…

  2. “…seeking to understand each other before seeking to be understood.” Wow. I love this. How often do I not hear what my husband is saying because I’m wanting to be understood first!? Thank you for this.
    I had a friend say something like this a long time ago to me, and it stuck with me when I know I need to talk to someone about something hard. It has helped me a lot in communicating!
    Thanks, Sheila!

    • You’re welcome, Dana. And I guess it’s just another part of God always reminding us to put the other person first. Love and blessings to you and your’s!! And thanks for stopping by.

  3. I love the sandwich idea. Such good advice, Sheila. I’m going to remember this the next time I’m trying to communicate something not so easy!

    • Thanks! And it really works well, Betsy. Especially when you pray for the words and your heart is right. And so easy to do. A great skill to better our marriages with…Blessings and have a great weekend.

  4. Good communication is so important in a marriage. I love the idea of making time to talk. It’s so easy to get busy and never linger over dinner, or just sit together and talk, but those times can be very enjoyable. “Sometimes I’ll say something to Michael knowing exactly what I mean but he doesn’t perceive it in quite the same way. And vice versa.” This is something we need to continue to work on, too. 🙂 It’s so important and can eliminate misunderstandings with lead to arguments. While the sandwich effect can be helpful, I have also seen it misused in other types of relationships, so it can backfire. I’m glad you clarified that you don’t just flatter, but speak of something truthful. May God bless you as you continue to share your wisdom in your blog!

    • Thank you, Gayl. God is so good in allowing me to share my story and the lessons I have learned along the way so much of which were the hard way. He is good all the time and is ever teaching us to be more and more like Himself. So. Love. Jesus!! God bless you, my friend. Restful, peaceful, joyful Sunday!!!

  5. I think writing (including e-mailing) can be a good way of communication. Before we were married, my betrothed and I wrote a lot. I once even wrote to him about communicating in writing after we married. Once we were married, I learned to talk to him easier than I thought I would, but still think writing can be good.

    • Since Michael and I met online and because we are both writers, the written word has played a major role in our continuing relationship. And writing is good because it gives you time to reflect before hitting send, sometimes altering or withdrawing certain words or phrases to better word the message in love. Thanks, Nicole. Nice to “meet” you.

  6. Dear Sheila … I love the emphasis on those simple acts of kindness. They never grow old or stale, they breathe whiffs of life into an ordinary day, they bring a smile to a heavy heart.

    Thank you, thank you!

  7. I’d love to read through Love Talk. I’ve heard interviews with Les and Leslie Parrott through the years, and they both seem so real and down to earth. And wise! Thanks for sharing about this sandwich. It’s one I try to practice too.

    • Thanks so very much, Kaylene. I am honored that you would feature this post. And while I list all my linkups on my About page, I am happy to grab your button!! Thanks again and many blessings.

  8. I am definitely a fan of Skippy, lol! What a great example of how to serve each other as spouses. Thanks for the great marriage series you are doing and for sharing what you are learning. Thanks also for linking with Grace and Truth 🙂 AJ

    • You’re welcome, Arabah. And thank you all for hosting!! And yes, I loved Skippy but alas digestive restrictions mean I now eat almond butter. On granny smith apple slices. Total yum!