Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Communication: The Key to a Marriage That Lasts a Lifetime

If you could use only one word to describe your marriage, what would it be? Depending on your last conversation with your husband, right?

After 43 years of marriage, I can honestly describe our marriage as.... calm. (most of the time.)
But oh those early years! Not always so calm. You take two "kids" from very different backgrounds and family structure, add some immaturity and selfishness, throw in a war, (not ours) add a stressful job, fast forward a couple of years and add a baby, house payments, 3rd shift, and the general, everyday stresses of life and the word to describe our marriage could change daily, almost hourly.

Ladies, marriage is tough!! And it's tough because from the moment you look into the eyes of your husband and promise your life away, our enemy, Satan, is on a lifelong mission to destroy what you and your husband so lovingly long to build; a relationship that will stand the test of time and eternity, and a secure family and home for your children.

Don't you just love it when a woman says, "Oh my husband and I have never had a fight." And when I hear that I want to say, "Well lady, one of you isn't necessary, because I can't think of anyone that I agree with all the time."

When I think of our early years, the words "mad" (not angry, mad), "get you back", "you always", "you never", quickly come to mind. And then there were those times when the silent treatment worked a whole lot better than words, and the silent treatment could manipulate just about any situation. In fact, for two people with a daily word quota to fill in a fight, the silent treatment said it loud and clear.

Statistics tell us that divorce among Christian couples is the same as divorce among unbelievers; why? Not unfaithfulness or abuse, not alcohol or drug abuse, but in a recent survey of Christian couples who divorced it all came down to one thing; communication. And communication is simply the words we speak to each other and about each other. So that tells me we need to do a better job of expressing our needs and our feelings, because what we don't say will build up and build up and after a period of time, what isn't said will implode inside us and oh what a mess!!

I recently heard of yet another couple who divorced after 45 years of marriage. They had been our friends, our neighbors several years ago. They seemed like the perfect family; 2 handsome sons, 5 grandchildren, and everything that made them seem picture perfect; from the outside. They moved away when their boys were still children, but we stayed in touch occasionally, and even though I was totally caught off guard by the news, looking back, I can see there seemed to be something missing. Could it have been communication?
Maybe so. Our marriage is important and it comes 2nd only to our relationship with our Savior. And just as the right words can repair the most damaged of relationships, the wrong words can destroy the best of relationships.

The Bible has a lot to say about the words we speak. Just look up the word "word or words" in your concordance and you'll be amazed at how many times the Lord used the word, "word". This is what Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 5:2;
"Don't be RASH with your mouth, and let not your heart be hasty to say anything before God; for God is in Heaven, and you are upon earth, so let your words be few."

So how do I separate the words I speak, from the thoughts I am thinking? How do I keep from speaking them, and hurting those I love? Well the truth is, on our own, we cannot. Only the Holy Spirit can produce the fruit of self control, gentleness, humility, kindness, patience, love, goodness, joy and faith and it takes a whole lot of all 9 of those fruit to develop good communication in marriage. And only as He produces those fruit in us can we conquer our negative thoughts toward our husband and prevent those thoughts from becoming "rash" words.

Think about the conversations you've recently had with your husband; did you do all the talking? Did he?
Communication means the conversation goes both ways. Did you interrupt when he was telling you how he felt about a certain issue? Something I've noticed about myself is this; I interrupt to "defend" myself or my opinions. The next time you and your husband are arguing about (discussing) something, allow him to completely state his thoughts and opinions, and ask him to allow you to do the same. I have found this to be true with David and me; I understand him better, and he understands me better when I say less and listen more, and he says less and listens more. And many times when he has finished stating his feelings, it has diffused the situation and as my Mama used to say, "took all the wind out of my sails." All I have to do is let him finish!! Men have a tendency to get "loud" in a "discussion" and women have a tendency to get "meaner" with their words. And the reason we can get meaner is because we say what we're thinking. Not very attractive. When I stay calm, don't interrupt, and let him express himself, there's no reason for him to get loud because you see, if I'm not talking, he doesn't have to talk over me!!

Take time today to read Galatians 5: 22 and 23, and ask the Holy Spirit to produce His fruit in your life and in your marriage. It is amazing what He will do in the marriage of a man and woman who are committed to honoring Christ and honoring each other.

And may I add just one more thing? It isn't just what we say to our husband that breaks down communication in our marriage; it is also what we say about him. Other people form their opinions about our husband from what they see and hear from us. If we speak about him to our Mom, our sisters, our friends and even strangers in a negative way, it won't be long until not only "they" will have a distorted view of him, but we'll begin thinking those things ourselves, and before we know it, communication breaks down. What you say about your husband in public can influence his opportunities in his job and his service in the church and for the Lord. Keep intimate things private and keep private......private.

As you work together to build good communication skills in your marriage, rash words will be less spoken and you may actually see some "calm" going on around you. Pray for your husband and your marriage every single day, it is so worth it!!

Thank you so much to everyone who reads this blog. It is now being read in 35 countries and I appreciate every email, comment, and word of encouragement you have given me. Without you there would be no blog. Again, thank you so much. And would you please pray that the blog would be a blessing and a help to all who read it?              
Have a Happy Thanksgiving!!