In marriage and long-term relationships, communication is key. Good communication keeps you afloat and your connection strong. Bad communication can turn easily-fixed cracks into deep rivets. Happily, good communication is something we can all learn. In this piece, ministers and mentors Deanna and Stephen Kaech illustrate how to fix communication problems in marriage.
When The Message Gets Lost
Do you remember the childhood game of “Telephone?” Everyone would sit in a circle and one person would start by whispering a sentence into his neighbor’s ear only once. Then, that person would whisper what he heard to the person next to him, and so on. If someone didn’t hear what was being whispered, he had to relay what he thought he heard on to the next person as best as he could. By the time the last person in the circle had heard the message, it rarely resembled anything close to the original message.
While “Telephone” was fun to play as a kid in order to see how scrambled a message could get between the first and last players, it isn’t fun when miscommunication happens with our partner or spouse.
Communication Problems In Marriage
Many times, the reason for communication problems in marriage is that we are not willing to pause and listen to what is being said to us. Often, we are so focused on our own thoughts that we are usually rehearsing what we want to say in our own minds instead of listening properly. This convolutes the message we should be receiving from our spouse and causes frustration. When we aren’t listening like we should, we are being selfish and are putting our own agenda ahead of focusing on our partner.
James reminds us that we should be quick to listen and slow to speak in order to be the person God desires us to be (James 1:19-20). Sometimes, the best way we can communicate is by actively listening and staying focused on what our mate is saying to us.
Standoffs In Marriage
After mentoring Christian couples over the years, one unhealthy relationship habit that I am still puzzled by is when a couple goes for days without speaking to each other. Or, they will deliberately go out of their way to avoid eye contact with each other. The bible clearly tells us not to let the sun go down on our anger so the enemy can’t gain a foothold (Ephesians 4:26).
When we do allow the last light of day to fade before resolving our communication problems in marriage and with one another, it injures the unity of the connection. Not kept in check, hurt, fear and anger quickly turn a small division into a chasm. And damage is not only done to the marriage, but to any children in the family as well.
As parents, we are solely responsible for the foundation of our family. When our kids feel any signs of quaking in that foundation, they can become fearful of divorce being a possibility. This is especially true of children who have gone through a previous divorce. After all, if you are teaching them Christian values, they know that everyone is supposed to be kind, compassionate and forgiving. If you are not speaking to each other and the kids are watching you, then you aren’t properly modeling these virtues for them.
Figuring Things Out
When you’re at an impasse and need a friend to bounce things off of, what kind of friend do you choose? Many choose someone who will agree with them instead of being honest. But love and truth must go together. A true friend will see through your one-sided description of a situation and challenge you on your actions and reactions. He or she will help you see the need for forgiveness and reconciliation.
Part of fixing communication problems in marriage is to accept this advice and make the effort to reconcile. Be the first to ask for forgiveness when you hurt your spouse. Don’t wait for your mate to apologize first. Instead, show humility and gentleness (Ephesians 4:2) when you approach your spouse. Hey, we all mess up. It takes a wise person to realize when they’ve hurt the one they love the most and take accountability for it.
In addition to asking for forgiveness, choose to forgive your spouse, even if he or she has not yet asked you for it. If you harbor resentment in your heart, the only person you hurt is yourself. Remember, the marriage covenant is between you, your spouse and God. By being quick to forgive each other, you put your marriage back in order and please God at the same time.
You may also be interested in 4 Ways To Keep Jesus At The Center Of Your Marriage