Marriage Communication 101: The Listener Controls The Conversation

By Team BLAM

Are you aware that a listener, not the speaker, controls the conversation? Probably not, since most of us operate under the myth that the more we talk, the more we influence the listener. If both people in a conversation believe this, the talking escalates and becomes more intense, making words fly through the air with nowhere to land.

What do I mean by saying the listener controls the conversation? Compare listening to the driving of a car. The person talking can be likened to the engine, the person listening can be likened to the person at the wheel. The engine provides the power, but the person at the wheel has the power to decide where the car will go. You, the listener can give direction and guide the flow of the conversation by the statements you ask and the questions you ask.

This is what is called paraphrasing. When you paraphrase what another person is saying, that person will continue to talk. And when you verbally agree with the talker, you cause the person to share even more.

So, why do we listen to other people? Partly because we’ve been taught to do so. But there are 4 basic reasons why we listen to other people.

1. To understand the other person.

2. To enjoy the other person.

3. To learn something from the one talking (such as learning his or her language).

4. To give help, assistance, or comfort to the other person.

The world is made up of many pseudolisteners who masquerade as the real product. But, anyone who has not listened for the above reasons does not really listen.

Stop Playing. Start Pushing.

BLAM Fam: On a scale of 1-10 with 1 being “You suck at listening” to 10 being “You are an example worth following” when it comes to listening–where do you fall? In other words have you really been listening to your spouse? Do you consciously and consistently work on becoming a better listener? Keep it real ya’ll. 😉

“No couple begins marriage with highly developed communication. It is not something they bring into marriage, but something to be continually cultivated through all of the experiences of their shared life.” `Norman H. Wright

Excerpted from H. Norman Wright’s Communication:Key To Your Marriage

Is Your Relationship Environment Toxic?

“When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment it is in–not the flower.” There’s a lot us married folks that can learn from that statement. We need to stop focusing on and trying to fix our spouses and pay attention to how we contribute to a loving and positive (or nasty and toxic) environment. You have more power than you realize. Stop Playing. Start Pushing.

Ayize & Aiyana Ma’at, licensed clinical therapists and high school sweethearts, have been together for 22 years and married for 14. Together, they are the founders of B Intentional LLC, a personal development & relationship education company. Known for their signature down to earth and “keep it real” style. Ayize & Aiyana Ma’at have been featured on Dr. Drew’s Life Changers T.V. Show, Michael Baisden Show, Roland Martin’s Washington Watch, The Matt Mcgill Show, The Oprah Winfrey Network, and many more. While they are grateful for an abundance of opportunities to work with people all over the country committed to transcending self limiting barriers and elevating themselves and their relationships to a higher level, their most valued and important accomplishments to date are their 5 beautiful children who keep them busy, focused, centered, and laughing!

How To Deal With A Stubborn Spouse Who Always Pushes Back

Resistant. Attitude. Can’t take criticism. Never wrong. Hard for them to hear you because they’re so busy defending themselves…. sound familiar. If this is your spouse or…maybe it’s you….this question and answer is for YOU.

A viewer wrote in and said….

Hey guys, love the show. I have a question I’d like to pose, anonymously. How does one communicate an issue with someone who is stubborn or quick to anger? Verbal aggression is a lot of the times used as a barrier to deflect an issue that need to be addressed. Serious issues as well as the minor stuff. Difficult to penetrate, even with persistence… Tips?

What are some of the ways you deal with your boo when they ain’t trying to hear you? Are you strategic? Creative? Or do you push back too? Listen in to our answer below.

Why In The Hell Are We Always Arguing?

If arguments were all you saw and heard growing up then it may feel natural to argue a lot. Truthfully you might get a high, an adrenaline rush from the excitement that arguing brings. But whatever the cause, chronic arguing brings problems – and not just for the neighbors…BUT…for your relationship and your family.

Yes, most of us argue sometimes and it would be a dry ass world if we all saw things in exactly the same way. Constructive arguing is cool, but destructive arguing can destroy valuable relationships. The opposite of arguing isn’t agreement in all things, it’s knowing how to disagree and still maintain mutual respect. The biggest understanding that you can embrace is difference is o.k. Once you get that…you’ll release the need to always be right and consequently the number of arguments will decrease. CHECK OUT THE BELOW VIDEO. It contains some valuable insights that will help you deal with disagreements..AKA…BEEF.


Dealing With Holidays & The In-Laws

How have you dealt with special days like Christmas, Thanksgiving, Fourth of July, Easter, Memorial Day, and birthdays? Most of us might think only in terms of the way we grew up, perhaps with Mom and Dad, and expect these occasions to be celebrated the same way.


The only problem, now that you’re married, is whose mom and dad’s celebration of the holidays you’re going to adopt. An added challenge confronts blended families, who may have a host of combinations of relationships and traditions to consider.


One husband and wife, like many others, found themselves in a quandary. Where should they go for Thanksgiving? In an effort to respect the desires of both sets of parents and a grandmother, they ended up rushing from house to house. The result: They didn’t enjoy the food or the time together.


Sometimes practical considerations minimize this conflict. If family members live far apart, the question of where to spend the holidays may be answered when travel costs are taken into account. Often, though, the solutions aren’t quite so clear.


Premarital counseling may be the best place to start addressing this question; it’s frequently covered in that setting. Whether you discussed this important area of family relationships before you were married or are just now beginning to deal with it, here are some key concepts that can help you decide how and where to spend your holidays:


Sit down with your spouse and share—orally and in writing—how each of you feels about holidays and how they’re spent. Include major national holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and other occasions that are special to you. If it’s your family’s tradition to take a drive to see the changing autumn leaves, for instance, don’t hesitate to mention it. The same goes for marking the start of fishing season, the last day of school, or the Super Bowl.

Explain how you spent the holidays as a child. Which aspects did you enjoy? Which would you like to change? If the two of you were raised in different countries or cultures, what holidays could you learn more about? For example, a spouse who grew up in England might not realize the significance of Thanksgiving and Independence Day to a mate who was raised in the U.S.

Consider how your parents and other relatives may wish to have you involved. Perhaps a Christmas Eve service together is important to the wife’s parents, while Christmas dinner is central to the husband’s. Try to be open to the desires of family members—but not controlled by them.

Agree on how you as a couple would like to establish your own holiday traditions. Work for balance and fairness. For example, you might decide to spend Christmas morning with your parents and Christmas evening with your spouse’s (if both live close by). The following year you might spend the whole day at home as a couple—or, if you have children, with them.

Be open to changing your plan as needed. Flexibility and variation can help to avoid hard feelings when the in-laws’ expectations aren’t met. For instance, you might invite relatives to gather at your place instead of agonizing over which ones to visit. You might even take a vacation during the holidays to add variety and break the cycle of expectations.

Despite the usefulness of these steps, holiday observances still can be an emotional minefield for couples and in-laws. Here are some cautions to keep in mind:


It may be a lot easier for you and your spouse to change what you want for the holidays than for parents to adjust what’s been important to them for many years. Share openly with them some of your ideas and hopes for holiday times, letting them know that you value being with them.

Develop realistic expectations of how the holidays should be spent. Wishful thinking generally leads to hurt feelings and disappointments. Personality differences, physical limitations, and philosophical disagreements don’t disappear just because a particular date on the calendar has arrived. On the contrary, these factors often become more pronounced under stress—and most holidays provide plenty of that.

Holiday gift-giving can be a source of conflict and hurt. While it’s better to give than receive (Acts 20:35), most people seem to prefer a balance of the two. Exchanging presents can easily get out of hand, creating hardship for family members who can’t afford the expense. Try creative options. For example, you might give Christmas or birthday gifts to immediate family members, exchange names for other relatives, or give single gifts to family units.

There may be no specific right and wrong ways for families to spend the holidays together, but there could be better ways for you to approach holiday traditions and expectations. To keep those days worth celebrating, remember these tips:



Aim to make holiday times enjoyable and memorable.

Balance the development of your own traditions with those of the homes you came from.

Keep the focus on time spent together rather than amount of money spent.


From Focus on the Family’s Complete Guide to the First Five Years of Marriage, published by Tyndale. 

5 Signs That Your Relationship Is Done!

By Alex Daniels

Relationships are fragile and not everyone you meet is destined to be your soul mate. But, that’s the good thing about dating. You can meet different people so that you will know when the right person does come along. So, what are some of the indications that your relationship may be headed south? Take a look at the following 5 signs and see if your love will pass the test.

Inconvenience. Does your partner all of a sudden act as though making time for you is a burden? If you feel like your sweetheart cannot or will not fit you into their busy schedule, there may be a reason. If you’re spending more and more time apart, it may be time to make the distance permanent.

Defensiveness. When your mate isn’t where he/she is supposed to be and then becomes defensive when asked about it, you may have a problem. This may be a sign of cheating or just plain out dishonesty but, either way, it’s a good indication that the relationship is in trouble.

Dishonesty. If someone deceives you, it’s not okay. Whether it’s something that you can forgive or not, that’s a personal decision. Regardless of the deceit or it’s severity, the fact that your partner was dishonest is not an indication that the relationship is heading in the right direction. Why did this person deceive you and why did they believe it was okay? If this situation isn’t corrected, the relationship is just as good as finished either way you look at it.

Constant arguments. If you and your mate are always bickering, ask yourself what has changed within the relationship to create all of the hostility. If nitpicking is a problem, why does it seem as though the other person is always trying to start an argument? If there are legitimate reasons for the disagreements, what are they and what lead to their development? In some cases, people just change and may even grow apart. If your occasional argument has turned into a daily habit, it may be time to reevaluate the relationship and try to determine whether or not these issues can or will ever be resolved.

The rumor mill. Rumors are rumors and sometimes they may be just that. But some say there is a little bit of truth to every one. If people are talking about your mate, listen to what they are saying and decide for yourself whether or not there is any credibility to their statements. When you’re in love, your judgement may be clouded and you may even be angry at those who are talking. In deciding who and what to believe, first consider who is doing the talking. Is it someone that cares for you and has always had your best interest at heart? If so, take a good listen to what they are saying. This doesn’t mean that you should believe everything that you hear and, by that same token, you shouldn’t disbelieve it either.

5 Ways To Get Your Partner To Stop Yelling And Start Listening

By Susie and Otto Collins

Does it seem like any conversation with your partner turns into a shouting match?

Do you feel like your mate can’t (or won’t) hear what you have to say?

Does it often seem like your partner yells at you more than he or she speaks to you?

Yelling, shouting and arguing do happen. We all lose our cool from time to time and say things more harshly than we intended. Some of us try to keep our intense emotions under control, but then we have a major meltdown and let it all out.

You may have mostly been on the receiving end of your partner’s anger and shouting. Or, it could be that you tend to rise to his or her level of intensity and you both end up yelling.

While it’s certainly not healthy to hold in your emotions or to try to hide how you truly feel, it’s also not healthy or effective to communicate with your partner by shouting and yelling.

As you probably already know, when you are being yelled at, it’s nearly impossible to really listen to the meaning of the shouted words. When you are yelling, it is also nearly impossible to communicate and be heard.

If your partner has a habit of yelling at you and you’d like him or her to stop so that you two can really communicate and connect, try these 5 tips…

#1: Recognize your role.

It’s rarely easy to acknowledge that you also play a role in the conflict that’s going on in your love relationship or marriage– but you most likely do. Have the courage to recognize the role that you play.

It could be your tendency to get defensive, to close down and become silent, to criticize, blame or judge. When you feel calm and clear-headed, think back to the last time you and your partner had an argument or he or she yelled at you. If you were an observer looking in on this situation, what would you notice about how you usually act and react?

Be sure that you are taking responsibility for your share and not the entire dynamic. Recognizing your role does NOT mean that you take on the blame for your partner’s yelling, words or actions.

#2: Interrupt the usual pattern and try something different.

Once you have a better idea of what you usually do when your partner yells (or even before he or she yells), you can start to catch yourself sooner when you do the things that feed into the contentious situation.

When you notice your own voice starting to rise or feel yourself closing down and becoming silent– or whatever it is that you do– then you can interrupt yourself mid-stream. You can stop before the tension escalates and the yelling starts (or continues).

As you do this, you can also try some new responses to your partner’s yelling or hostility.

#3: Remember to breathe.

As mundane as it sounds, remembering to breathe in the middle of a tense or argumentative moment can make a big difference.

What often happens when a person feels threatened or tense is that he or she breathes more shallowly and quickly or even holds the breath. As a result, the entire physiological system becomes tighter, adrenaline races and there is a greater chance that the person will react instead of respond to whatever it going on.

The reaction is often to fight, flee or freeze. These are life-saving reactions in certain situations, but they are never conducive to connecting communication.

Remind yourself to breathe and to slow and deepen your breathing at all times– especially when you and your partner are in conflict or there is yelling.

#4: Expect to be respected and heard.

Expectations are powerful. We expect that the sun will rise and then set each day. We expect that our cars will transport us from one place to another.

And, over time, we develop expectations about ourselves and our partner.

You might have an expectation that your mate will yell and scream at you when you make a mistake or somehow disappoint him or her. You may expect that your partner will either ignore or fail to understand what you are trying to say.

Expectations are neither good nor bad, but they do have a strong influence on how we react to situations that come up.

If you’re about to talk with your partner about an difficult issue and he or she has a history of yelling at you, it’s likely that you’ll approach this conversations expecting to be yelled at or for a fight to ensue.

There may be a long history to support your expectations or perhaps a few stand-out memories have caused you to believe that your partner will shout at you or fail to understand you.

Be wise and aware, but also be sure you are responding to what’s going on in the present moment instead of reacting from the past and your expectations.

#5: Create agreements and set boundaries.

When the two of you are calm, request that he or she come up with some agreements with you about how you will communicate with one another.

The key to creating agreements that will really bring improvement is to make sure you both feel free to be honest and realistic as you make them. An ultimatum is NOT an agreement. Once you have found words for an agreement that you both are okay with, make sure you each have the same understanding of it.

There are times when setting a boundary is also called for. If your partner refuses to create (or follow) agreements with you, it might be time for you to make clear what you will and will not allow.

This requires you to affirm to yourself the kind of respect and interaction that you want in your relationship and then to stand behind that.

Susie and Otto Collins are relationship coaches and authors who help couples communicate, connect and create the passionate relationships they desire. They have written these e-books and programs: Magic Relationship Words, Relationship Trust Turnaround, No More Jealousy and Stop Talking on Eggshells, among many others.


Successful Relationships Don’t Walk A Straight Line

By Ayize Ma’at

If you look at any successful relationships and really study it…you will be amazed at how sophisticated, complex, structured, clean, and ……DIRTY their relationship has been.  I intentionally highlighted dirty because folks have a general misunderstanding of what real love looks like.  Yes it’s pretty as hell….but that beautiful diamond you’re looking at initially had a whole bunch of dirt on it that had to be cleaned off.  The unfortunate thing about most people in relationships is that they’re unwilling to dig to find the diamond….and once found they are unwilling to deal with the DIRT!!!.

Come on yall….you can’t shine bright like a diamond if you are unwilling to get cut.

For INDIVIDUAL OR COUPLES THERAPY with Ayize and Aiyana Ma’at


The Gracious Wife Versus The Sarcastic Wife. Which One Are You?

By Heather Marshall

I don’t know about you, but I HATE sarcasm.

Okay, okay, I know that there are times when it is funny, and even somewhat appropriate (like when my husband hikes his pants all the way up to his chest and runs around the house like that, and I say, “Oooh, that’s sexy!” …definite sarcasm there). Most times, however, sarcasm does not have happy results, even if the receiver does not “seem” hurt, offended, or angry.

Picture this: Your husband comes home from work a little late, and you make a sarcastic comment on his timing as he walks through the door. He flops on the couch, exhausted from work, as you finish making dinner. You observe him relaxing while you’re working hard to get dinner done and the table set. Insert sarcastic comment about how helpful he’s being. After dinner, he helps clear the table. Insert another sarcastic comment about how helpful he’s being, assuming he’s only helping because of your first comment. How do you think your husband is feeling at this point? Encouraged and uplifted? Or discouraged and defeated?

Does this seem like your home? Your relationship with your husband? You may think your comments are funny, and he may even laugh… but picture your sarcasm acting like a game of Jenga: the longer it goes on, the wobblier your marriage will be, until it (or your husband) collapses.

Ready for another word picture? Picture a sand castle being meticulously built on the beach next to the beautiful ocean. You can build it high, sculpt it perfectly, and decorate it beautifully… but gradually, as the tide comes in, the water will eat away the foundation of your castle, and it will crumble and fall. Your sarcasm acts like that water, eating away at your marriage until it destroys it.

Sarcasm is THAT dangerous.

Why? Because, all too often, truth is hidden in sarcastic barbs. If, deep down (or not so deep down even!), you think your husband is a loser, the things you sarcastically say will show your true feelings. Hurt by something your husband said to you? Sarcasm is often the retaliation. It seems “safer” than an all-out confrontation, but it is not! It can cause a deep wound to your husband, and over time that wound can either harden his heart toward you, cause a rift in your marriage that is difficult to mend, or fester and infect him with bitterness toward you.

Sarcasm demeans your husband, shows the lack of respect you have for him, and is the opposite of a gracious wife!

Perhaps sarcasm is part of “who you are,” part of your “sense of humor.” I’d like for you to evaluate why exactly you enjoy using sarcasm, and make sure that you are not hurting or demeaning others through your sarcasm. I decided long ago that sarcasm was unbecoming of a Godly (or striving to be Godly) woman, and a sarcastic woman was NOT what I wanted to be. I had to evaluate what I was saying, and how I was saying it.

Here are some questions to ask yourself the next time you feel a sarcastic comment coming on:

Who will benefit from me saying this? Will it uplift and encourage anyone? Will it bring joy or laughter to someone else? (see #2 if this last answer is a “yes”)

Will anyone be demeaned, offended, insulted, singled out, made to feel uncomfortable, or made fun of? Will the comment be at the expense of another person, even if they are not present in the room? (If yes, it’s not worth it to say it!!)

What are my motives? Am I saying this to draw attention to myself, even if it’s to my own flaws? Am I trying to get someone to notice how much I’m doing, or how much they are NOT doing?

What am I REALLY trying to say? Am I trying to get my hurt feelings assuaged or noticed? Am I trying to get help in a particular area?

How will the recipient of my sarcasm receive it? Did you recently have a fight, and a sarcastic comment will be like throwing salt in an open wound? Has he had a bad day, and one negative comment from you will push him over the edge?

IS IT NECESSARY? Sometimes, you won’t know the answer to the above questions. You might think everything is fine, throw out a few zingers, and it could be the worst thing you’ve ever done. You JUST DON’T ALWAYS KNOW. Therefore…. if your sarcasm is not necessary, just don’t say it!! You might not be known as the funniest girl at the party, but at least you won’t leave a trail of hurt feelings behind you.

Shall we strive to knock sarcasm out of our lives? Shall we strive to break that habit? Let’s strive to be Gracious Wives, who lift up and encourage our husbands, not tear them down with our sarcasm.

My name is Heather Marshall, and I am…a striving wife…29 years old…married to my best friend…a born-again Christian…a former high school science teacher…a cancer survivor…the youngest of three kids…a wife, a mom, a daughter, a sister, and a friend…often insecure in my body, but always secure in my God…an avid reader…in youth ministry &…growing in Christ. Visit Heather at


Simply Ask For What You Want In Your Relationship

By Jake and Hannah Eagle

Do you get what you want from your partner? Some of the time . . . most of the time . . . all of the time? Most people I listen to complain that they don’t get what they want from their partner—at least not enough of the time to be deeply satisfied.

There’s a reason why. And there’s a simple and effective solution.
When I ask, “Are you getting what you want,” I’m not asking about material things; I’m asking you about being treated the ways you want to be treated? Does your partner treat you the way you want to be treated?

And, to begin, you need to know how you want to be treated.

In a small group survey, I asked twenty people, “Does your partner treat you the way you want to be treated?” People didn’t answer with a simple “yes” or “no.” They told me stories. Seventeen out of twenty stories were about what people weren’t getting.

“My partner doesn’t say ‘I love you’ nearly as often as I’d like to hear it.”

“He lapses into periods of being unconscious or unaware and when that happens I certainly don’t get what I want.”

“My partner doesn’t like to initiate sexual relations, which is really a drag for me.”

“What I really want is acceptance, and my partner seldom gives that to me, because she’s focused on what’s not good enough.”

“He can’t seem to acknowledge me for the way I do things because I always do things in ways that are very different from how he would do them. He’s never satisfied with what I do.”

Take a look at the comments above and see if you notice anything.

Do you notice that what people talk about is what they don’t get. And this is incredibly common. People complain about what they don’t get instead of asking for what they want. If you do this, if you complain about what you don’t get—I have two things to say to you:

You’re really stupid to keep complaining about what you don’t get.
Notice how you respond to that comment. Because I’m doing to you what a lot of people do with their partners. I’m just complaining. And notice how you respond to this. Most people get defensive, shut down, step back, or argue. None of which help you get what you want.

The second thing I want to say is:

I wish you would just ask for what you want.
My second response is me making a simple request. Notice how you feel when you hear that. Very different isn’t it?

So why don’t people just ask for what they want instead of complaining about what they don’t get?

We want to believe the other person can read our minds, and if they could we wouldn’t haven’t to ask for what we want.
We want to punish the other person for not giving us what we want. Hard to admit, but it’s true.
We want to avoid being vulnerable, opening up and asking for what we want.

CLICK HERE to read more.