Families Need Dialogue
Dialogue is to love what blood is to your body. When dialogue stops, love dies and resentment is born.
Dialogue has risks, unfortunately. However, when two or more people decide to do it and accept their fear of the risks, dialogue will bring important rewards.
This is the miracle of dialogue: it can bring relationships into being, and it can bring into being once again a relationship that has died (Howe, 1963).
Newborn infants and their parents begin a lifesaving series of dialogues. The infant communicates his/her needs and Mom or Dad responds by feeding, bathing, cuddling, talking or singing. These behaviors communicate the message that the parent loves him/her. Should the parent be rough, irritable, or neglectful, the child will feel unloved and unaccepted. To speak the words of love in a dialogue, is to be loved as well as to love.
The relationship between a man and a woman can communicate such mutual love by means of dialogue. The marriage vows are a first commitment to this kind of love-producing dialogue. In fact, Dr. Gordon's Credo promises that each will share their needs "openly and honestly, trusting you will listen with empathy and understanding." And every aspect of the marriage relationship needs dialogue: planning together, sharing individual experiences, choosing agreed upon responsibilities, discussing their sexual relations, conveying both their joys and their problems.
Both must try to speak honestly out of their own conviction, seek patiently to keep aware of the partner as another person, and try to keep open to the meaning of everything that happens in the relationship.
*Excerpt from Family Effectiveness Training (F.E.T.) Adult Resource Book