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Elayne Grossmith offers tips on effective communication for married couples.

Heather Prescott is a language faculty member at Mercersburg Academy who describes herself as someone who "specializes in making language applicable in students' daily lives." She recently presented a convocation speech titled "Just Three Words," offering some valuable information applicable to every Catholic mom's daily life.

Ms. Prescott's love for words grew from her interest in mythology, religious stories, fairy tales, folklore, and fables. She became captivated by the groups of three that seemed to exist everywhere and sensed the number's "powerful and magical" nature, like the Greeks, who believed the number was perfect.

Ms. Prescott displayed the prominence and prevalence of "three" by offering these examples:

  • Time Markers: past, present, future;
  • Galaxies in Astronomy: elliptical, spiral, and irregular;
  • Atoms in Chemistry: protons, neutrons, electrons
  • Rock Formations in Geology: sedimentary, igneous, metamorphic
  • Branches of U.S. Government: Executive, Legislative, Judicial 

Of course, as Catholics, we know that God the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit in the Trinity is the Ultimate Triad. God is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. 

In her concern for everyday communication, Ms. Prescott suggested you need to "listen actively, think clearly, and speak competently." A successful marriage depends on effective communication between a husband and wife, which requires listening and thinking before speaking.




Last month in my article "When Life Throws You a Curve Ball" I discussed the importance of remaining flexible and being open to fresh ideas to solve problems. Because we have diverse perspectives and viewpoints, a couple can be dissimilar and find themselves conflicting. Ms. Prescott believes that is why "precise language matters." She believes our "21st-century model of responding quickly," influenced by internet communication and texting, makes it difficult to "attend, heed and understand each other." 

Ms. Prescott advises economizing language by adopting three-word sentences that can "connect you" and "convey meaning in mighty ways." She believes "the fewer the words, the more piercing the message." 

These five groups of three words offered by Ms. Prescott are easy to communicate and convey accurate sentiments: 

  1. "I was wrong.
    You were right." 

These statements are productive because you're admitting when you're wrong. They have a disarming effect in a disagreement rather than the opposite strategy of making excuses, blaming, or rationalizing, which can expand the conflict.


  1. "Why is that?" 

This question lets your spouse know you're interested in them and is a way to learn more about what's happening with them.


  1. "I need help."
    "Can I help?" 

One of your marital goals should be to assist each other to "thrive, grow and develop." It's the way spouses become true partners working toward the same goal. But, as a Catholic mom, you can feel overloaded with work. Asking for help prevents you from becoming resentful toward your spouse. Or, there may be times when a spouse feels overworked, and offering your help shows you care. Being there for each other is the path to happiness, relationship satisfaction, and a long-standing outcome.


  1. "I forgive you."
    "Please forgive me." 

This phrase cultivates a spirit of accountability and helps form a" habit of contrition, repentance, and atonement," concepts familiar to a Catholic mom. Being too slow to say these words can prolong conflicts. Even worse, some unfortunate spouses have caused irreparable harm to their marriage because they never expressed these sentiments when appropriate.


  1. "Whatever you say−
     I don't care." 

These are snarky comments that you might say when you're tired or just tired of going back and forth in an argument. Ms. Prescott believes these common expressions are dangerous because they convey "apathy, complacency, and resignation." When these remarks come to mind, it usually signals that you've had enough. Take a break rather than feel the "defeat, loss, or indifference."




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A successful marriage depends on effective communication between a husband and wife, which requires listening and thinking before speaking. #catholicmom


Ms. Prescott closed her speech with noteworthy and memorable words worth quoting: 

Behavior is shaped by language use. Move toward cooperation and intercommunication. What three words will characterize the way you express yourself? 

Will it be:

  • Maybe you're right;
  • Talk to me;
  • On second thought;
  • Are you okay;
  • I'll be there? 

Just three words can be your lexical habit of mind in powerful ways. Use them with care, intent, and awareness. 

Thanks for listening.




Copyright 2022 Elayne Grossmith
Images: Canva