Good communication requires sensitivity, humility, courage, and patience. While the following example was taken from our marriage, the principles apply to any close relationship.
One thing my husband, Tom, and I had to learn to do was to (loving and respectfully) speak up when the other person did something that hurt our feelings. We’re both very non-confrontational people, so we’d tend to say nothing. The problem is, if the other person isn’t aware of the offense, they aren’t going to change, and nothing will be resolved. Also, if we harbor resentment in our hearts, that will drive a wedge in the relationship.
So, when someone offends us unintentionally, gently bring it to their attention. For example, whenever we were in crowded places, like a mall or an amusement park, Tom would tend to charge ahead, leaving me behind. I felt ignored and unprotected. Usually, I managed to keep up with him, but one time, in a mall in Istanbul, I lost him. In a panic, I started calling out his name. A man pointed to the escalator and there was Tom, headed up.
One day, after this behavior occurred in an amusement park, I told Tom I knew he didn’t intend to hurt my feelings, but I explained how I felt and suggested that we hold hands and not let go to walk around people and objects but, instead, just exercise patience and stay together. I only mentioned the most recent example, not similar past mistakes. Since people tend to feel defensive when confronted with their mistakes, no matter how lovingly it is done, it’s best to stick to the example at hand. I also waited until we were alone, and he was in a pleasant state of mind. He agreed to my proposed solution.
When should we keep quiet? When we already know, from past discussions, that the other person isn’t willing to change a particular behavior. In those cases, it’s best just to pray for them and decide how we’re going to cope with that behavior.