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In our marriage and family life, we want to experience love, we want to express love, and we want to foster love. To accomplish these three things, communication and dialogue are essential, says Pope Francis.
But dialogue isn’t easy. In fact, says the Holy Father, it needs a “long and demanding apprenticeship.”
Still, communication is our calling as spouses and as families. “The family is the image of God, who is a communion of persons,” notes the Pope. The persons of the trinity are in constant, eternal communication.
How can we grow in communication within our families? These six ideas from Pope Francis can help.
1Listen without emotional distraction.
Be disposed to listen patiently to everything the other person wants to say.
In order to do this, we need to have cultivated an interior silence, that makes it possible to listen without mental or emotional distractions.
2Recognize the other’s rights.
This means: Appreciating the other person, and recognizing their right to exist, to think as they think, and to be happy.
Don’t downplay what they say or think, even if you disagree and need to express your own point of view.
Everyone has something to contribute because they have their own experiences, concerns, perspectives, and insights.
3Don’t force agreement.
Be ready to change or expand your ideas and opinions! We don’t have to all be alike. The combination of two different ways of thinking can lead to a synthesis that enriches both.
4Choose words carefully.
It is a skill to say what one is thinking without offending the other. Work on it!
Making a point should never involve inflicting hurt. Many family disagreements are not about the matter at hand, but rather about the tone of voice or attitude with which something was expressed.
5Don’t try to win at any cost.
When we feel loved by someone we can better understand what they are trying to communicate. Expressing one’s position should never be about merely winning an argument or being proved right.
6Remember: To communicate, we need to have something to say!
When we communicate we are giving of ourselves. Let us enrich ourselves so that we can give from an interior richness nourished by reading, personal reflection, prayer, and openness to the world around us. This will keep family life and communication from becoming trivial, boring, or stifling.
~ These 6 points are all found and expanded upon in Nos. 136-141 of Amoris Laetitia.