In modern warfare, one of the first things a military tries to do is cut the enemy’s lines of communication. That’s because communication is so central to strategy. Without the ability to communicate, a military force becomes weakened and confused. A lack of communication results in defeat.
This happens in marriage as well. Communication is central to a healthy, successful relationship—which is why the Enemy works hard to violate and cut the communication lines within our marriages.
God created men and women to have distinct differences, and one of those differences is in how we communicate. For instance, one of a woman’s most important needs is communication. But that’s not true of men.
Karen and I realized this early in our marriage. She wanted to talk all the time. I didn’t want to talk at all. When I returned home from work, she would ask, “Where’d you go? Who’d you see? What did they say? How did you feel about that?”
Mostly I refused to answer. I thought she was being nosy! But what she was really trying to do is connect with me. She was trying to enter into my world.
One of the things that healed our marriage is when I started talking to Karen and understanding that patient, loving communication brought her into my world. When I opened up with her, our marriage turned a corner.
Simply put, men and women need to talk. You need to share feelings and enter each other’s worlds. Because of our differences, this is primarily something husbands can improve.
To help, consider these five essentials for successful communication in marriage.
1. Caring. This is simple. You cannot communicate with a person who doesn’t care. If they are not interested in listening, then you might as well be talking to a brick wall. When your spouse talks to you, stop what you’re doing, turn to them, and listen. Offer feedback. Show them attentive body language.
2. Praise. Psalm 100 says we enter God’s gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. The flip side of that is the idea that God won’t let a negative person into His presence. We are made in God’s image. Negativity hurts our communication, too.
Negative discussions are a part of marriage, but they need to be balanced—even earned—with words of praise. For every critical or negative word, a couple needs ten positive words. Praise is a discipline that keeps us focused on what is right.
3. Kindness and truth. In Ephesians 4, Paul writes about the importance of speaking the truth in love. Those two things—truth and love—must balance each other. Mercy without truth is a cheerleader without a team. It’s meaningless. Truth without mercy is surgery without anesthesia. It’s just plain mean. Balance your honesty with kindness.
4. Faith. This is so important to communication. You have to have faith in God and in each other. In marriage, each spouse has the right to say whatever they want, but they must rely on God to be the enforcer. That’s faith. It means trusting God to bring about change rather than your own nagging or browbeating.
5. Surrender. The best communication within marriage happens when both the husband and wife give themselves to God. Surrender your heart, your mind, and even you’re your mouth. Let Him give you the discipline to communicate well. Say, “this mouth belongs to God,” then allow Him to use it for good.
Communication is a vital part of every healthy marriage. Do you and your spouse talk to each other? Does your marriage reflect these five standards of successful communication?
Jimmy Evans // Marriage Today