Before I move on to other aspects of marriage, I would like to take a more serious look at communication in marriage. Because my last post regarding this topic, “The 3 C’s in Communication,” was a little tongue in cheek and because I am so passionate about marriage, I did not want to gloss over this important aspect of the marriage relationship.
As I stated previously, communication is important in any relationship. It is especially vital in a relationship where two become “won.” Without communication there cannot be understanding and without understanding any relationship will struggle. I would like to point out some areas that can plague a marriage and some tools on how men can address these.
- Arguments: Just because two people say “I do” doesn’t mean they will agree on everything. So what should we do when arguments arise? The first step would be to determine the true importance of the argument. The second would be to think about your role in this argument. Was this caused by a harsh answer, an unmet expectation, or a forgotten promise? Did you truly listen to your spouse’s point or were you just so intent on making your point? One thing that is very tempting to do is to raise your voice in response to the other person’s tone. This is a COLLOSAL mistake and only serves to satisfy you. This is contradictory to the idea of two becoming “won.” So what is the best thing to do? Sit there and listen until your spouse has gotten her load off her chest. Your next response is EXTREMELY important and this is it: Say “I hear what you are saying and I understand.” Right or wrong does not matter at this point. Nobody wins if the two of you are trying to have the other understand at the same time. When the “temperature cools down” you can both discuss the issue calmly.
- Anger: There will be times in a marriage relationship where anger will set in. This may be as a result from an argument, a harsh response or an unmet expectation. No matter what the cause, it is important to take 5 minutes, breathe deep and consider the possibility that you may have caused an anger response. If you thought about it and find that there is absolutely no way that you could have caused the anger issue, take 5 minutes, breathe deep and forgive your spouse. The sooner this is done the better. A loving, kind word will diffuse a train wreck of a situation. The most important aspect relating to anger is actually mentioned in Ephesians 4:26, Paul wrote: “Do not let the sun go down in your anger.” A husband should never, ever go to sleep without kissing his wife good night no matter what has transpired. Although this may feel awkward, what is communicated is “I know we just had a disagreement, but I love you.”
- Disagreements: Is the item of the disagreement vital in the relationship as a whole? Is compromise an option? Listen carefully before you speak and for the love of God, DO NOT interrupt your wife while she is talking. When people feel like they are heard, they tend to be calmer. This is because there is a general feeling that the other person genuinely cares and wants to listen. Furthermore, your spouse will be more willing to listen to you if she feels that you have listened to her. For men, as the leader in the marriage relationship, it is really important that we do not abuse this position in disagreements. In the latter part of Ephesians 5, Paul continues his thought on mutual submission in marriage and how the husband should love his wife sacrificially as Christ loved the church. And in verse 28 he wrote, “So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies, he who loves his wife loves himself.”
- One and Done: We are all imperfect and fall short of the glory of our Creator. This couldn’t be any truer than in times of stress or arguments. Sometimes, when in a new argument, we can have a tendency to bring up past hurts or mistakes. This is should NEVER be done. Once a hurtful comment or a mistake has been forgiven, it must not be brought up again. Doing so only serves to satisfy our momentary feelings of anger and can only fuel an already bad situation.
- Peace: It is very important to remember that peace does not always mean absence of conflict. There will be some tension occasionally in any relationship. This is especially true in marriage. When two imperfect people become a part of each other they do not magically perfect themselves. How we handle occasionally tense situations is the key to maintaining peace. This may mean being the first to say those dreaded words: “I’m sorry.” But the idea of saving face and pride has no place in a marriage relationship. So always try to diffuse a small problem before it becomes a bigger problem.
So to recap, it is vital to listen first then speak. Although arguments and disagreements may arise, do no let your emotions control your response. In disagreements remember to treat your spouse with the respect that you yourself would like to have. And finally, remember that even with peace there may be conflict. But it is in the proper handling of the little problems that we avoid bigger ones. Most importantly, remember that love is not a feeling so your love for your spouse should always determine your thoughts, actions and responses. I would like to close with one of my favorite passages of scripture that was recited in our wedding:
1 Corinthians 13:4-8- “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”