In Janell Rardon’s book, Overcoming Hurtful Words, she challenges readers to “reflect, reframe, and reauthor” their thinking to thrive in all areas of life. Focusing on the foundational importance of communication in marriage, I asked Janell, a Board Certified Life Coach, about the power of words in marriage, finding hope in trying times, and where to begin in a shattered marriage:
Q — What do you believe is the foundation of healthy communication in marriage?
Several years ago, my husband and I were blessed to build our dream home. At the time, our oldest child was seven years old and our twins, the ripe old age of three. It was a country home in which we would raise our children and give them ample space to run and play and grow. Day after day, we’d drive out to “the country,” and see the construction progress. In the beginning, when the foundation was being laid, my husband walked the perimeters carefully, double checking the progress in order to verify a firm foundation was indeed being laid.
In our marriage, he did the same. Daily checking in to verify a firm foundation was being laid. Priority One: Language—both verbal and non-verbal—as language is the firm foundation on which emotionally healthy and spiritually authentic people are built. Words matter and how those words are communicated and delivered matters more. In the 1970’s, Professor Emeritus and Sociologist, Albert Mehrabian, coined this term, prosody, and developed a communication model in which he demonstrated that only 7% of what we communicate consists of the literal content of the message. The use of one’s voice, such as tone, intonation, and volume, take up 38% and as much as 55% of communication consists of body language. This 7 – 38 – 55 -model is still much used today.
When it comes to healthy communication, what we say isn’t as important as how we say it. Prosody, like our words, can hold either power or poison.Tweet this!
Q — In your book, you discuss the importance of your emotional and spiritual tanks being filled to the brim. Would you say this is also important for the health of a marriage?
110%, yes. But, how do we do that when schedules, activities, work demands and the added pressure of digital distraction are filling our tanks instead? As I was writing this book, I had a tremendous “a-ha” moment. I found the word, rest, in Greek, interpreted as, “recovering or collecting strength.” When I framed rest in this way, I found it easier to give myself permission to “collect strength,”—which implies storing strength in my spiritual and emotional tank in order to have a vital reservoir to draw from in times of heightened stress. By adding the practice of collecting strength, marriages safeguard their relational health and ultimately, safeguard their family’s relational health.
Q — What advice would you give to married couples with a shattered history of harsh word exchanges, constant bickering and tearing one another down? What steps can they take toward restoration and a fresh start in their marriage?
If I could, I’d stand on the housetops and shout, “There is hope for your marriage!”
In my private practice, I have been privileged to see faltering, struggling marriages restored and totally healed. This work led me to develop The Heartlift Method—a three-fold cognitive and emotional healing process that involves reflecting, reframing, and re-authoring your History of Hurts into a Vision of Victory.
This methodology is the core of my new book, Overcoming Hurtful Words: Rewrite Your Story. The process is not easy, but it is empowering and I know it works.
When both parties are committed to emotional healing and spiritual authenticity and speak healing words to one another and to their children/family, transformation happens.Tweet this!
4. Based on your recent book, what advice can you offer individuals seeking to overcome hurtful words and enter a place of emotional/spiritual restoration?
First, buy the book (smile) and commit to the threefold cord of emotional health and spiritual authenticity: a healthy sense of self (strong identity in Christ), healthy behavior patterns and healthy communication skills. There are only two choices when building a God-sized legacy: healthy vs unhealthy. Proverbs 18:21 (The Voice) says it this way, “Words have power in matters of life and death, and those who love them will savor their fruit.”
Second, make an intentional decision to implement the nine practices of the Heartlifting process into their daily lives. I liken this to being “pregnant,” as it takes nine months to grow a healthy child. By dedicating one month to each of the nine practices, a marriage/family can definitely enter a place of true freedom and health.
Third, the husband and wife must learn the language of love, as written in God’s Word and be totally committed to the transformational process. Together, a firm decision to hold one another accountable in love and trust enables a brand-new, healthy narrative to be written. When they welcome God into the process of restoration, He shows himself strong on their behalf (2 Chronicles 16:9).
And, never be afraid or embarrassed or shy in asking for help. Admitting you need a trained counselor/life coach/mentor to offer an objective third set of eyes and ears, is a true sign of strength and courage.
Janell Rardon, national and international speaker, author, and relationship expert, has a master’s degree in Human Services Counseling/Marriage and Family Specialization. A board-certified Advanced Christian Life Coach (AACC), she is in private practice in Virginia. Janell and her husband have three grown children. Find out more at janellrardon.com or @janellrardon.