The Art of Marital Communication
- 2004 12 Feb
Every marriage survey ranks it as the number one problem. You guessed it, marital communication. “We just don’t communicate like we used to. My husband never talks to me.” “My wife is always trying to get me to talk. I feel like I’m being dragged, kicking and screaming, into every conversation.” Sound familiar? Probably so. Most marriages seem to bog down in this quagmire of bad communication. And when communication breaks down, barriers build up, until the cold shoulder is the normative posture in a marriage.
Created for Communication
But we were created for communication, especially in marriage. Of all places, marital communication should reflect the intimate and harmonious communication of God Himself. For God is a Trinity — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—the only true and perfect Communication from all eternity. Whatever intimate and harmonious communication is, it is found perfectly in the Trinity. And we were created in God’s image. So we were created for communication, communication that is designed for beauty, intimacy, and harmony. Of all places, this should be best expressed in our Christian marriages.
Barriers to Communication
What makes marital communication so difficult? Basically, we all face specific barriers that hinder a deepening communication in our marriages. First, we all carry some baggage with us from our upbringing. Our parents may have never communicated with each other or with us. They may have told us that children are to be seen and not heard. Second, we live in an isolating culture. Things like television, the Internet, and video games isolate us from those nearest and dearest to us. We get comfortable finding our own meaning, purpose, and values without having to interact and communicate with others. Third, we are bombarded with outside pressures. Jobs, car pools, church meetings, and the like, can steal the quality time needed for real communication between husbands and wives. Fourth, we tend to be lazy, gravitating to the nearest comfort zone. Real marital communication takes time, effort, and planning. It is not for the fainthearted. And fifth, we may be fearful of showing our emotions or of being rejected if we communicate openly and honestly.
The Art of Marital Communication
Marital communication is an art. It can be nurtured into the joy that God intended for couples. Try the following steps to make it happen.
- As a couple before God, commit yourselves to the recovery of a Trinitarian communication. Ask Him to nurture the language of intimacy and relationship in your lives. Great communication begins with God, the Author and Perfecter of all communication.
Ears that hear and eyes that see — the LORD has made them both (Proverbs 20:12).
- Accept the fact that God alone is the perfect Communicator. Your marriage will always need His redeeming touch for intimate communication to develop. And you will never arrive at the place of perfect communication in marriage.
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil (Psalms 34:15; 1 Peter 3:12).
- Recognize that there will be times of spontaneous communication as well as structured communication in your marriage. So be sensitive to both. Grab it when the need bursts into your marriage. Plan it when you are strung out on life’s pressures.
A person finds joy in giving an apt answer — how good is a timely word (Proverbs 15:23).
The right word at the right time is like a custom-made piece of jewelry (Proverbs 25:11, The Message).
- Beware of the power of your words, both for healing and for hurting. The goal of good marital communication is “more light than heat.”
The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit (Proverbs 18:21).
An anxious heart weighs a person down, but a kind word cheers him up (Proverbs 12:25).
The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit (Proverbs 15:4).
Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones (Proverbs 16: 24).
When words are many, sin is not absent, but the one who holds his tongue is wise (Proverbs 10:19).
Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing (Proverbs 12: 18).
- Focus on listening to your mate — really listening — before speaking. Listen with two sets of ears: to the obvious words of the mouth and the not so obvious words of the heart.
The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil (Proverbs 15:28).
Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue (Proverbs 17:28).
The one who answers before listening — that is his folly and his shame (Proverbs 18:13).
- Look for things for which you can praise your mate — there are more than enough for daily appreciation. Praise is the daily bread of good marital communication. Thank God for the gift of your mate.
A man is praised according to his wisdom, but men with warped minds are despised (Proverbs 12:8).
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate [i.e., the town council] (Proverbs 31:30-31).
© 2003 Christian Family Life
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