What does it mean to, “communicate in marriage, God’s way?”
What does it truly, and deeply mean?
Why does communication in marriage matter?
How does communicating in marriage, in the way God, the creator of all intended, solve many communication problems in marriage?
If getting the answers to any of those questions to appeal to you, keep reading.
You ever read the word, “communication,” in the following way: come… UNION…cation.
See how, union is at the center of the most important skill one needs to develop in marriage?
Maybe, but, I like it and it communicates (pun intended) what I believe, is a relevant, crucially important, point.
Lack of effective, come…union…cation skills in marriage leads to division in marriage.
Communication problems lead to arguments, and unresolved problems over a long period, leads to divorce.
Poor communication skills is the #1 problem in marriage. By far.
Ever heard of Dr. John Gottman? For those of you that don’t know who he is, Dr. John Gottman is one of the top 10 most influential Therapist in the last quarter-century.
*Taken from his website*: World-renowned for his work on marital stability and divorce prediction, John Gottman has conducted 40 years of breakthrough research with thousands of couples. His work on marriage and parenting has earned him numerous major awards, including:
- Four National Institute of Mental Health Research Scientist Awards
- The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy Distinguished Research Scientist Award
- The American Family Therapy Academy Award for Most Distinguished Contributor to Family Systems Research
- The American Psychological Association Division of Family Psychology, Presidential Citation for Outstanding Lifetime Research Contribution
- The National Council of Family Relations, 1994 Burgess Award for Outstanding Career in Theory and Research
I bring Dr. Gottman up to talk about what he calls the, “four horsemen” of divorce.
Biblically speaking, the four horsemen of the Apacalypse is a metaphor depicting the end of times in the New Testament. They describe conquest, war, hunger, and death respectively.
Dr. John Gottman extends this metaphor to talk about four things in marriage, that he has witnessed over 40 years. If these four things consistently occurred created a high probability of divorce.
What are those four things?
While reading over those 4 things, did you notice anything familiar?
Spoil alert. Communication.
The 4 things mentioned, that Dr. Gottman has noticed leads to him being able to predict divorce at a high rate, are all things that are a result of poor communication skills in marriage
Colossians 4:6-“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”
Have I got your attention yet?
I bet come…UNION…cation sounds less corny now, doesn’t it?
No? Still corny? Welp….I tried.
If your marriage matters, then building effective communication skills in marriage should matter to you.
Let’s talk about, how, you can learn to improve the communication in your marriage, biblically, and practically.
So where do you begin?
How to Improve Communication in Marriage
As a Marriage Counselor, you can imagine how often I get emails, inbox messages, or questions in person, relating to, “what are techniques that I can use to improve the communication in my marriage?”
I have nothing against techniques. Techniques are a great tool for helping one develop necessary skills.
However, the problem with techniques, is that they usually fit a specific context. If you take that specific technique outside of that specific context, then, it probably isn’t wise to use.
For example, if your spouse says something harsh to you, one ‘technique’, is, to say nothing back.
Take a deep breath, relax your mind, and simply, let it go.
When you can master that, you can move on to something a little more difficult, like responding, calmly, and gently.
Proverbs 15: “A gentle answer turns away wrath,
But a [a]harsh word stirs up anger.”
Silence is a great technique, that will work in many situations. Perhaps you and your spouse are around a group of people, and that is the most respectable way you could respond to not have that situation escalate to an argument.
In a situation like that, among people, silence works well.
Let’s change the context.
What if, you and your spouse are home alone, having a discussion about something important, and your spouse says something harsh to you in the conversation, and you remain silent.
Do you think remaining silent, in that context, is wise?
After all, the topic in that conversation is important, and silence won’t lead you two to an effective solution.
Techniques serve a purpose, but there is a better solution to common communication problems in marriage.
That solution, or that way, is by being obedient to the Word of God.
Renewing your mind, to the ways, of His ways, and dying to self, your ways, of dealing with the Spiritual union, that is marriage.
Boom! Didn’t see that coming did you?!
In the words of Pastor John Macarthur, “marriage is an earthly example, of a heavenly union.”
How in the world,(pun intended) do you expect to fulfill your roles in that heavenly union, using ‘earthly’ ways?
Earthly ways, could be considered any way in which you primarily lean on your own understanding, versus the revealed truth of God for your marriage.
Earthly ways could be any way, in which you, by some means, rely mostly on you, for solutions.
The alternative is to rely on what Jesus teaches about the problem you’re having.
God has a design for your marriage, and if you fail to follow that design, the marriage fails to function in the ways the perfect, all-knowing God intended it to function.
In the words of Maya Angelou, “you don’t swim on the stove.”
In other words, the stove wasn’t ‘designed’ to swim on.
“Duh! I know that you don’t swim on the stove!”
I would definitely hope so.
The message I want to get across is this, failing to do things God’s way, is a sin. Sins, ‘miss the mark’ on how God intended us to live while being fallen, sinful, broken, imperfect people in this world.
Remember Dr. John Gottman, the world-renowned Therapist that developed a system for predicting divorce?
Dr. Gottman could predict divorces by observing if four issues were present in a marriage.
To recap, those four issues are; critcism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling.
Hey, Dr. John Gottman!? You think that’s why God said, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person?”
Or how about when God said, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
These truths, by God, are statements to all Christians, walking in Christ.
It would follow then, in a Christian marriage, you would also add that, to your default behavior, as a Christian spouse.
How a Christian should communicate, by default, whether we are talking about a Christian that is married, or single, has already been made clear by God.
Being obedient to that standard of speech, alone, would drastically lead to far fewer arguments than any worldly psychology, offered by any leading expert.
This is not a technique, this is a renewing of your mind.
Our sinful nature often produces speech laced with contempt, anger, belittlement, arrogance, spite, pride, jealousy….need I go on?
Does any of those ways, ‘build-up’ your spouse?
Wives, do any of those ways reflect a Proverbs 31 woman?
Communicating God’s way #1 tip
For those of you that may want one simple tip, to wrap your mind around that would definitely, deeply, and immediately improve the communication in your marriage, here is one tip/tecniques.
“In everything, then, do to others as you would have them do to you. For this is the essence of the Law and the prophets.”
“How does this apply to communication in my marriage?”
Unfortunately, one of the ramifications of a sinful nature is hypocrisy.
We lie, yet feel outraged when we are lied to.
We speak harshly, yet get defensive when our spouses return the favor.
We fail to listen intently to our loved ones, yet, demand to be heard when speaking.
We….(fail to do unto our spouse as we would have them do unto us) then…react unfairly, and un-introspectively.
Matthew 7:2-4 “2 For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and [a]by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?”
Ever notice how for inspecting one’s self, Jesus used the word ‘log’?
Yet when judging/inspecting another, he used the word ‘speck’? As if to say, more focus on one’s own flaws or behaviors is more important. Judge yourself more, than others.
I leave you with this, spouses.
Be far more aware of how you are speaking, or not speaking, acting, or not acting as it relates to communication in your marriage.
Focus on consistently speaking in the Godly way that you are called to speak, instead of focusing on the ways your spouse falls short.