Communication in Marriage: Word Pictures


communication in marriage

“A picture is worth a thousand words,” the saying goes. So it makes sense that  word pictures can help you communicate more effectively with your husband. In their book, The Language of Love, Dr. Gary Smalley and Dr. John Trent describe the communication style called “word pictures.”

An “emotional word picture” is defined as “a communication tool that uses a story or object to activate simultaneously the emotions and intellect of a person. In so doing, it causes the person to experience our words, not just hear them.” In simpler language, a word picture can help your husband better understand what you’re trying to say.

So instead of saying to your husband, “You hurt my feelings!” Try a word picture: “Do you remember how you felt when your baseball coach told you you’d never be a good hitter?” (Now your husband can call up those feelings via your word picture.) “That’s how I felt after you told me…”

So get creative for better communication. Here are 7 steps to creating a powerful word picture.

1. Establish a Clear Purpose.

Have clear in your mind what message you want to convey when creating your word picture. Do you want to clarify feelings, move to a deeper level of intimacy, encourage your husband, or lovingly correct him?

2. Carefully Study the Other Person’s Interests.

Know what interests your husband so that you can use an illustration that will best capture his attention.

3. Draw from Four Inexhaustible Wells.

If you are concerned about not being creative enough to form your own word picture, Smalley and Trent suggest four sources of inspiration: nature, everyday objects, imaginary stories, and your own experiences.

4. Rehearse Your Story.

While it’s not practical to write down or practice every word picture you use, Smalley and Trent do recommend thinking through your stories before using them.

5. Pick a Convenient Time without Distractions.

Choose a time to share your word picture with your husband when there aren’t distractions or time constraints. Know your spouse and when he will be most likely to be attentive to you.

6. Try and Try Again.

Smalley and Trent encourage readers to continue this communication method, even if it is not as effective as hoped the first time used.

7. Milk Your Word Picture for All It’s Worth!

Use a basic word picture to bring several levels of feelings to the surface. So use word pictures to reach your husband on a deeper emotional level. If you choose your words, and your word picture, wisely, you could see great results.

This article is based on the book, The Language of Love, by Dr. Gary Smalley and Dr. John Trent.

Let’s Talk: Have you ever tried a word picture to communicate with your husband?

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